As a result of our annual door to door surveys we have found that a good percentage of the homes in our community adhere to the laws concerning smoke alarms. Over the last four years, an average of 85% of the homes entered met the requirements of having a smoke alarm on each level and outside all sleeping areas. Last year we almost reached 90% compliance, a very good number indeed. In a majority of cases (95%) the non compliant issues were contributed to dead batteries in a single unit or one level of the home not having a smoke alarm, matters that need addressing but not what we would regard as grossly negligent matters. Additionally the deficiencies were usually dealt with by the homeowner within 24 hours if not immediately. Compliance numbers like these would likely be the envy of any large city and most communities in general, and we definitely appreciate the efforts the citizens of Russell have made to make their homes more fire safe.
However there is another aspect to fire safety that we are hoping to see improved statistics for in the upcoming years; escape planning. Home fire escape planning is a must for any family if they want to better their chance of survival in a house fire, and from what we have seen in the homes of Russell over the last four years there is a lot of room for improvement. On average only 34% of the homes visited have ever practiced a home escape plan, and only 11% practiced one within six months of the question being asked. However we are not alone in neglecting this aspect of fire safety, it is well known in the fire service throughout
The smoke alarm campaigns have been very successful in convincing the public of the need for these safety devices and for most people it would be unthinkable to not have them in the home. However smoke alarms are simply early warning devices, they are designed to give you added time to escape. What we choose to do once the alarm sounds makes the difference between surviving or dying in a fire. It sounds simple enough, get out of the house. And it is simple, but in most homes there are a number of concerns attached to escaping; small children, elderly adults, physical disabilities or physical limitations. Additionally these concerns change over time; a new baby or a pregnant mother will create a change in your planning. Having an elderly parent move into the home or a teenager who decides to create a basement bedroom brings about other changes. Every family needs to assess their individual situation and come up with a simple plan that is reviewed periodically and known by all members of the family. Without a well thought out plan, you are not fully protecting your family.
The Russell Fire Department has a program where we will come to your home and assess your level of fire safety and review escape planning, if you feel this would be of interest call the fire department at 613-445-3326 and leave a message.
Published in The Russell Villager - March 24, 2010