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Dec

Most of us, at some time or another, have heard the saying ‘better safe than sorry.’ Those wise words apply to many aspects of our lives and, perhaps most importantly when it comes to our safety and the safety of those we love.

A fire is great if you have a family BBQ or snuggling in front of the fireplace in winter when temperatures dip below freezing point. But any unintended fire is certainly not welcome in our homes. House fires can inflict disastrous damage, financially and emotionally, and to our safety and well-being.

Each year in Canada, over 10,000 residential fires are reported, fires that result in hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries. Statistics are frightening, with over 75% of all fire-related deaths in Canada being residential fire-related. Even more scary is the fact that smoking in the home is a top contributor to this statistic!

Fire extinguishers may seem to be a small measure, however, they do play an essential role in your family home’s fire safety plan. They can save lives and your property by effectively extinguishing any small fire or at least suppressing it long enough until your local fire department arrives.

Read on as we share with you the importance of having fire extinguishers in your home and the types of fire extinguishers required.

Plan for Safety

Safety planning is a priority and ensures the protection of yourself and your family. The average Canadian home will contain a number of combustible materials that will act either as a fire starter or will add to the flames in the event of a fire. Working out and learning your family’s escape routes in the event of a fire and placing easily accessible fire extinguishers from the right class will be a step in the right direction when thinking ‘safety first.’

Understanding Fire Risks

Combustible materials in the home are always a fire threat, with extensive use of wood in the frames and sidings in most Canadian houses and older houses still making do with old electrical wiring and fittings that present a potential fire hazard.

Wood as a building material is cheaper, lighter, and easier to ship, plus the fact that Canada is just plain cold in winter, and wood is a great insulator as opposed to brick or stone. Unfortunately, wood burns easily and quickly. When purchasing a home, we cannot dictate the materials used in construction, but we can ensure we are always prepared in the event of a fire breaking out.

Fire Extinguisher Types

Fire extinguishers are classed according to the type of materials they can be used on. Three classes are mainly recommended.

● Class A is for common combustibles, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, trash, and plastic.
● Class B is for flammable liquids, such as oil, paints, and solvents.
● Class C is for electrical equipment, such as wiring, fuses, appliances, and motors.

Where Should I Place a Fire Extinguisher?

Each room in a house presents a different type of fire hazard, and your fire safety plan must consider these differences. In fact, most fire protection experts recommend that you have a minimum of three extinguishers in your home.

Kitchen

The kitchen is a top contending space in your home for a potential fire. When a pot or pan overheats or when cooking grease or oil splatters, it will take only seconds to catch fire, with disastrous results if you are unprepared.

Do not leave pots and pans unattended when you’re cooking, as the majority of kitchen fires happen when people make the mistake of getting distracted or when they leave the kitchen. It’s always a good idea to keep all flammable items like towels, oven mitts, and bottles of cooking oil away from heat sources, as open flames on a stove and intense heat in the oven can easily result in a fire. The placement of the correct B/C type of fire extinguisher should ideally be close to the stove area for easy access.

Electrical malfunction of kitchen appliances is always a potential fire risk, and the B/C class fire extinguisher is needed to suppress any electrical fault fire.

Living Room

The living room often plays host to a fireplace, candles or even a space heater. These are all potential fire hazards. Sparks from a fireplace can jump and ignite rugs and carpets or even stored logs next to the fireplace. Where possible, use a hearth screen and never leave a fire unattended.

Portable heaters should be kept at least one meter away from combustible items such as curtains, furniture, and yourself. It’s also never a good idea to use portable heaters to dry clothes or shoes. Placement of multi-class A/B/C fire extinguishers in a living room will cover all fire types.

BBQ Area

BBQ areas, even though they are outside of your home, are a fire risk. Regularly maintaining your BBQ equipment will ensure your family’s safety. Gas lines must be checked for leaks and cleaned. Excessive buildup of cooking fats can pose a fire risk, and it’s always a good idea to use your BBQ away from your home. All wooden sundecks and deck rails, tablecloths, and tree limbs are all potential fire risks from uncontrolled flames. A multi-purpose class A/B/C extinguisher close at hand is called for.

Never bring your BBQ indoors, and never use in the garage.

Garage

The garage is a potentially high fire risk part of the home. Your family’s car, after your drive home with hot exhausts or even static electrical sparks, can ignite stored flammable liquids such as fuels, solvents, cleaning agents, thinners, adhesives, paints, and other raw materials.

Storage of any flammable liquids should not be close to a heating source. Ideally, flammable liquids should be stored in approved containers, preferably outside the home in a cool, ventilated area. A larger capacity multi-purpose A/B/C class fire extinguisher should be easily accessible near the entrance with a clear path in the event of an emergency.

General Home Fire Extinguisher Tips

Even though Canadian fire regulations don’t require mandatory fire extinguishers for single-family buildings, there are regulations regarding their placement. All extinguishers except wheeled types must be installed so that the top of the extinguisher is no more than 3.5 feet above the floor, and the bottom of the extinguisher may not be less than 4 inches from the floor.

All fire extinguishers should be visually inspected each month and serviced once a year. All carbon dioxide extinguishers should be weighed annually to ensure they remain serviceable, and expiration dates must be checked. Should your prized garaged classic car go up in flames, you don’t want your expired fire extinguisher to give you a heartbreaking ‘ppffffft’ sound accompanied by little else.

As mentioned, plan a personalized home fire emergency evacuation plan and regularly practice it with your family. Teach your family fire survival basics like stop, drop, and roll if personal clothing catches alight. Remember, your local fire department is always a source of information regarding fire, fire safety, or fire prevention.

Get in touch with our consultants at Keller & Associates Insurance Brokers to learn more about comprehensive and tailor-made home insurance designed to provide adequate coverage for all unforeseen events in your home.