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Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Be proactive regarding fire prevention

Deaths from fires and burns are the third-leading cause of fatal home injury (Runyan 2004).

-- Use extension cords as a short-term solution in your home. Since cords heat up and cool down during use, the cord tends to quickly wear, thus becoming a fire hazard.

-- Unplug appliances such as the toaster, toaster oven, curling iron, coffee maker and kettle when not in use. Pull these appliances out from under cabinets before use.

-- Clean the dryer lint tray after every use. Vacuum behind the dryer as well as using the crevice tool of the vacuum to reach inside the lint trap housing.

Extra tip: Dryer lint is very flammable. In fact, some people save it in sealable bags and use it as a fire starter or keep a lint-filled bag in the glove compartment of their vehicles as part of their emergency kit.

-- Check furnace filters once a month; if they are dirty replace them. It isn't necessary to purchase expensive filters; the three-in-one pack will do. After removing the filter, do not stand or lay it beside the furnace. Discard it immediately because the debris on the filter is flammable.

-- Avoid turning on the dishwasher and clothes dryer when no one is home or when all household members are sleeping.

-- If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, contact 911 or Manitoba Hydro immediately. Remember, carbon monoxide is a silent killer because it doesn't carry its own odour.

Extra tips: The yeast in bread-making can trigger the carbon monoxide detector. Turn on the fan (if not built in and automatic) with every gas stove use.

-- It's safest not to use extension cords when plugging in Christmas lights. If extension cords are used, be sure to unplug them at night or when no one is home.

-- When plugging in Christmas lights, make sure every bulb on the strand is functioning properly.

-- Keep the tree holder full. Water freshly cut Christmas trees twice a day for the first while and once a day after that or as necessary.

-- Store one ABC fire extinguisher near the kitchen and one in the furnace room. The Class ABC fire extinguisher is suitable for three kinds of fires: Class A (ordinary combustibles such as wood or paper); Class B (flammable liquid fires such as grease or gasoline); or Class C (electrical fires). Check the date to make sure your fire extinguisher has not expired.

Extra tips

-- If your fire extinguisher has sat for a long time, turn it upside down for a few seconds and give it a pat to loosen the powder that falls to the bottom of the extinguisher. During use: Aim the extinguisher towards the bottom of the flames and squeeze the trigger in a slow, sweeping motion.

-- Talk to your family regarding fire prevention and discuss an escape plan and meeting place outside of your home. Beginning at age three, speak to your children about the importance of not hiding during a fire.

-- In the case of a stove fire or grease fire, turn the element off. If possible, put the lid on the pot and close the oven door. Toss baking soda onto the fire; flour will NOT work.

-- Change the batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors whenever daylight saving time occurs. Make sure your detectors have not exceeded their expiration dates.

-- Clean your chimney properly at least once a year.

Many thanks to fire Chief Kelvin Toews and Lieutenant Cindi Krahn of the Steinbach Fire Department for the preceding information.

The power of words

"Don't let your dreams go up in smoke -- practise fire safety." -- author unknown

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my videos/blog/website: reena.ca!

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