Province urges British Columbians to reduce fire risks amid spike in deaths

Between Jan. 1 and April 30 the province has seen triple the number of deaths due to fire as that same period last year.

The province is urging British Columbians to take action to prevent fire hazards at home amid an increase in fire-related deaths since the beginning of the year.

Between Jan. 1 and April 30, the province saw 15 deaths due to fire, triple the number from that same period last year. As many in the province remain close to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to test smoke alarms and practise an escape plan, according to the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

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"It's up to each of us to make sure these types of tragedies do not happen," said fire commissioner Brian Godlonton in a written statement. 

"In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to get out safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. There are simple things that we can do to prevent a fire from happening and be prepared to react if a fire starts."

The Officer of the Fire Commissioner recommends the following to reduce fire risks in your home:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when cooking as unattended cooking is the leading case of home fires.
  • Always extinguish candles before leaving the room.
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside the home and outside the garage. Thoroughly extinguish all smoking materials in water or sand.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Make sure smoke alarms work
  • Test smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. Replace batteries according to manufacturer's instructions.

One of the best things you can do to ensure you and your family escapes unscathed in the event of a fire is to make and practice a home fire escape plan. In making that plan, ensure everyone knows at least two ways out of each room and keep those exits clear of any obstructions. 

It’s also important to decide who will be responsible for helping young children, older adults or anyone else in your home who needs help to escape. Once outside, you’ll need to establish a meeting place where everyone can be accounted for, so choose one before hand. It can be something as simple as a lamp or tree. 

It might seem obvious, but only once you’re safe outside with everyone in your household should you call 911 from a cellphone or neighbour’s home. And never re-enter a burning building.

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