As people continue to stay inside, the Victoria Fire Department is offering some basic fire prevention tips to help everyone stay safe while in isolation.
Since April 28, there have been five fires in Victoria — two at the same heritage house in Vic West, one at an apartment building in Esquimalt, one in Fernwood when a bed was pushed up against a heater ignited and one on Victor Street that started with cooking oil.
Deputy fire chief Chris Royel says there are a few standard things residents can do to help create better safety habits. Never leave a stove unattended while cooking, especially when using oil or grease — Royel suggests setting a timer — and turning handles inwards so children, or clumsy adults, don’t grab or knock into the hot pots. Also, be cautious of wearing baggy clothing around the stove, says Royel.
Another tip from Royel — give heaters some space and don’t have anything pushed up against them. He says it’s best to go by the manufacturer’s recommendations on how much space to allow between things.
Never leave a candle burning and unplug small appliances when they’re not in use, he adds.
Royel says now is a great time to sit down and develop an escape plan in case of a fire. Draw your home on a piece of paper — or a template from the fire department — and map out two exits from each room so you know what to do if you ever see smoke. “Practice this at least twice a year,” he says.
If there is a fire, get out of the house first and then call 911. Don’t ever re-enter a home that’s on fire, even if a pet is still inside. Royel says it’s best to pass along that information to firefighters so they can get everyone out safely.
Finally, one of the most important safety tips Royel says he can offer is having a working smoke detector. He recommends testing the detector at least once a month and changing the batteries once per year at minimum, but Royel recommends changing the batteries “every time we change the clock.” The Victoria Fire Department runs a free home smoke alarm program where a fire prevention officer will come to your home and determine the best place for a smoke detector or test out the ones already in place.
To learn more about the program call 250-920-3360.