NEW GLASGOW – What is the first thing you do when your smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night?
This was the question Art MacLean posed at the fire safety talk at the New Glasgow Library last week for Fire Prevention Week.
Most people assume the best thing to do is jump out of bed and investigate the cause of the alarm.
“If the smoke alarm goes off and you are in bed, never stand up. Roll on to the ground and touch the door with the back of your hand. If it’s hot, do not go outside of the room,” he explains.
The biggest threat to people is smoke or carbon monoxide.
Throughout the week, local fire departments have been meeting with schools and community groups to educate on fire safety.
“The question we get from children the most,” explains MacLean, “is if the children are in bed and they can’t get out the door, how can the firefighters get to them?”
MacLean says firefighters give children stickers to put in their bedroom window so firefighters know there are children present in the home.
“When we go to the scene of a fire, I … look for those decals to indicate there are children in the house. Then we tell the children to, if safe, crawl to the door and check it with the back of their hand, if they can’t get out, open the window and wave for help.”
He says the biggest problem they have in terms of fire and children is fear – fear of the fire, fear of getting out safely and fear for animals and family.
“Do not go after pets. That’s the firefighters’ job. The pet will be stressed and will run around; by chasing the animal you are risking your life. We have equipment to give oxygen to pets if needed.”
Another key to safety is having an evacuation plan, or an EDITH (Exit Drill In The Home) plan.
“What we experience with fires in a home or apartment building is that 80 per cent of the time, we arrive on scene and the adults or seniors are milling around inside the building. Everyone should get outside.”
The 21-year New Glasgow Fire Department veteran adds, “It is important to educate people on fire prevention from kindergarten to the oldest senior because most fires are preventable and that’s the problem, we take too much for granted.”
Art MacLean, safety officer with New Glasgow Fire Department, prepares to give a tour of a fire truck.