Storm season is officially upon us and that can mean power outages, wind warnings, ice and even snow.
As residents gear up for colder weather, Langford Fire Chief Chris Aubrey offered some tips to help keep your home warm and safe in the coming months.
“We typically are busier in the fall and winter months,” said Aubrey, noting heat sources are the second leading cause of fires in Canada.
“If we do have prolonged power outages we just want to make sure people aren’t doing risky things.”
He reminded residents that items such as barbecues and patio or exterior heaters should be left outside and are not safe to operate in your home or garage – even if the door is open. “There’s an exhaust that’s filling your house with carbon monoxide,” he said.
Langford Fire Rescue received its first carbon monoxide call of the season last week and Aubrey noted it’s a good reminder for everyone to make sure detectors are in proper working order.
In that case, the resident was warming up their vehicle in the home’s garage and while they do it regularly, on that particular day it caused dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up in a nearby suite.
Since carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless, tasteless gas, having an alarm can literally mean the difference between life and death. “If you don’t have a detector you don’t know you have a problem,” Aubrey added. “For the cost of a detector, your life is so [much] more important.”
Anyone with gas appliances should have detectors and Aubrey noted the same rules apply as for smoke detectors, which means one should be on each level of your home and in the vicinity of appliances but not right next to them.
If you didn’t test your smoke or carbon monoxide alarms when the clocks went back earlier this month, now is the time.
It’s also the time to service gas appliances.
“They do need a little TLC to make sure they’re functioning properly,” Aubrey said, adding by doing regular maintenance any potential problems will be discovered early.
But that doesn’t just apply to gas appliances, as all heating sources should be checked and cleaned before being used. Whether it’s vacuuming baseboard heaters to ensure no particles have accumulated or having wood stoves and chimneys properly cleaned and inspected, it can save residents from disaster.
Aubrey noted roughly two weeks ago the department responded to an incident where the mortar around a fireplace had worn away causing ash and embers to fall onto the floor.
The homeowner woke to find their home filled with smoke and firefighters discovered embers had actually been burrowing into the wood floor under the fireplace.
The home also didn’t have working smoke detectors.
“Everything in that situation was what we’re trying to avoid,” Aubrey said, adding regular maintenance is key. “Then you have that peace of mind.”
With trees likely to come down in the coming weeks due to high winds and wet grounds, Aubrey reminded residents to stay away from and downed power lines and to phone 911 if they are a danger.