This week is Fire Prevention Week across Canada, beginning on Sunday, Oct. 7, and running through to Saturday, Oct. 13.
Department members want to keep local residents safe, so to help you do just that this winter, the Lake Cowichan Fire Department has a few tips.
The biggest thing is chimney fires, says Lieutenant Ryan Smith.
“People don’t get [their chimneys] cleaned. Most everybody’s got a wood stove in town, so that’s kind of one of the biggest things for us fire wise during the winter because we will respond to quite a few chimney fires.”
He recommends having your chimney cleaned at least once a year by a professional chimney sweep.
“And it’s not necessarily just uncleaned chimneys, freshly cleaned chimneys can have chimney fires as well,” said Smith. “And lack of maintenance on chimneys period; we do see quite a few that haven’t been maintained.”
He says many people have cracked flues and don’t realize it.
“And the danger of a chimney fire, is once they get going, especially if the chimney is compromised, you can get a fire in your attic. We’ve had some full-on structure fires because of chimneys,” said Smith.
The other thing to be aware of is your smoke detector’s batteries.
He says the best time to do this is in the spring and fall when clocks are set forward or back.
“So that’s doing an actual swap out of the battery even if they test good,” said Smith. “We’re recommending that you test your smoke detector every month.”
Another issue is fireworks around Halloween.
“There are very specific bylaws in the town of Lake Cowichan for fireworks,” said Smith. “It’s rare now to go into a municipality and still have fireworks. I think Lake Cowichan is one of the few that still legally allows fireworks to be fired off during Halloween.”
He says the department has had issues with fireworks in the past. Two years ago there was a boat fire in Lake Park Estates which was possibly due to fireworks.
He says some of the problem is lack of training and firing off fireworks right beside homes which can easily start a roof fire, especially if the roof is constructed using shakes.
Follow instructions on the package of your fireworks, shoot them off in an appropriate area, and don’t allow children to fire them at each other or even hold them in their hands while firing them off.
The last issue is Christmas trees during the holiday season. Smith says that even though many people now use plastic trees, for those that like to have a live Christmas tree the thing to remember is to get one that is fresh, keep it watered, away from any heat source such as a wood stove or even a baseboard heater, and to remove it from your home as soon as the holiday is over so there is less chance that it will dry out.
Smith also recommends making sure that Christmas lights are LED, that there are no broken bulbs or frayed cords.
“And then again, just general candle safety. At Christmas . . . make sure the kids aren’t playing with them and just be responsible. Put candles out. We get a lot of candle fires in the province, especially with power outages.”
Make sure candles are away from curtains, the Christmas tree, and away from furniture such as couches and other fabrics.