Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Fall is officially here, and many of us are going through the rituals involved with this time of year: carving pumpkins, hosting Thanksgiving, digging up the garden, and closing up the cottage.
For many people throughout Manitoba and Ontario, especially, cottage season runs from mid-April until mid-October (of the end of the month if we’re lucky) and around this time of year families are making the final trek to “close up” their cottage for the winter season.
If a weekend trip out to cottage country is in your near future, take a look at this list of tips to keep your cottage safe and protected against fires during your absence:
Turn Off Your Electrical System
Some cottage owners choose to turn off their electricity entirely by throwing the main switch located in their fuse box. If this is your choice this season, make sure to turn off all major appliances, gas fireplaces, your water heater, and any electrical space heaters or ductless mini split AC systems in any of your rooms.
Ensuring that these items are turned off will help ensure a smooth and error-free startup next season, and reduced the likelihood that an issue with your electrical system will cause a fire over the winter months. This is especially true with space heaters, which may turn on during cold weather and start fires.
Additionally, make sure to check your power lines and any exterior power lines or cables for damage. Put away any wires which will be unused during the winter, and inspect any visible wiring connected to outdoor lights and the like. Make sure to call an electrician if you notice any issues such as damage or fraying.
Clear Away Underbrush & Mow Your Grass
If you have lots of leaves, tree branches, and shrubs surrounding your cabin we advise cleaning them up and trimming them to the best of your ability before leaving the area unattended for the next few months.
While it’s less likely that a fire will ignite during the cold, damp winter months, it’s important to remember that leaves and tree branches are still flammable, and can ignite easily as a result of a spark from a frayed wire. It’s also important to give your lawn (if you have one) a last mow before departing for the season, as longer grass can help fires travel faster.
Take Photos of Everything
In the unfortunate event of a fire it’s important to take photos of everything that was in your cottage when you closed it up for the season.
Most cottage owners have insurance on their cottage and property which will cover the cost of any items lost in a fire, but one of the easiest ways to make sure you can claim everything is to take photos of the layout of your cottage and take notes about which pieces of furniture were in which room when you left.
For help staying fire-safe at home and at work, contact Bison Fire Protection at (204) 237-3473.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Every October the week between October 9th - 15th is observed in Canada and the United States as National Fire Safety Week.
According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) on average home fires account for 30% of all fires across the country, and account for 73% of all fire-related deaths in Canada. These statistics make Fire Prevention Week an especially important time, as it’s the perfect time to review how prepared you are to handle a fire, and to take any necessary steps to keep your home protected against fires.
Below are our top 10 ways that you can make the most of Fire Prevention Week and stay fire safe:
1. Install smoke detectors and check them regularly
Make sure that you have smoke detectors installed in every area of your home, and that there is one present in every bedroom.
Test your smoke alarms once a month, at least, to make sure that they will alert you to the presence of any smoke or fires in your home. Double-check the batteries and replace them with fresh ones whenever you change your clocks in the spring and fall, and replace your smoke alarms every 10 years, at least.
2. Put Together a Safety Kit
Make sure that a kit with food, water, a thermal blanket, and other necessities is well-stocked and ready to use in the event of an emergency which causes you to evacuate your home.
3. Create a ‘Fire Plan’
Put together a fire evacuation plan and discuss it with your family and loved ones. Regularly practice fire drills and make sure that everyone knows the appropriate exits, and where to meet outside of the home in the event of a fire.
4. Install the Right Light Bulbs
Light bulbs which are a higher wattage than the maximum indicated on the fixture or inside the lamp can easily start fires inside the home, so always be mindful that you are using the correct bulbs for each fixture.
5. Store Your Flammable Materials Correctly
Make sure to keep solvents, gasoline, and other flammable waste at least 10 metres from your home at all times in order to keep them from igniting accidentally.
6. Be Careful When You’re Cooking
Be mindful of the oils you use when cooking, and use your kitchen safely by closely monitoring any deep-fryers or flammable oils you may be using to cook your food.
7. Keep an Eye On Flammable Areas
Clean out the lint drawer in your dryer, never leave candles burning unattended, and use space heater according to their safety directions.
8. Remove Dry Leaves
Rake up any dry leaves on your property and dispose of them safely. If you burn leaves, make sure to check out our post on How to Burn Leaves Safely.
9. Check Your Home Inventory
Take photos of every room in your home and make a detailed list of your possessions and furniture in the event of a fire. That way you can make sure to claim everything that may be damaged.
10. Inspect and Clean Your Chimney Flues
If you have a chimney installed in your home, ensuring that no blockages or build up are present are essential for preventing fires.
Trust in the professionals at Bison Fire Protection to keep you safe this season and call (204) 237-3473 for service.
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
As the temperatures begin to dip many of us turn to our indoor fireplaces to keep us warm and create a welcoming, cozy atmosphere for our homes.
However, increased fireplace use should always begin with a refresher in fire safety, and homeowners should be aware of how to create a safe fire, and the hazards of unplanned fires. Following these tips can not only save your home and possessions from damage, but they can also help save your life:
Have Your Chimney Maintained
The first and most important thing to do before you begin using your fireplace is to have it professionally inspected and maintained by a qualified professional.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, contact a professional chimney sweep to perform a thorough inspection of the inside of your fireplace, as well as the outside. If you have a gas fireplace, check the manufacturer’s information about the appropriate professional to contact to help you maintain it.
Keep in mind that fall is a busy season for many professional in the fireplace industry, so try to book as soon as you can so that you can begin safely using your fireplace.
Use Fireplace Screens
Fireplace screens are exactly what they sound like: they are screens which are placed in front of your fireplace in order to keep sparks and other fire debris inside the fireplace and not on your carpet, wood floor, or furniture.
Stay With Your Fire
Never leave a fire unattended, as they can spread quickly and even leaving the room for a few minutes can be long enough to cause serious damage and health risks. If you absolutely must leave the room, try to be as quick as possible, and if you have company over ask them to mind the fire while you’re in the other room.
Don’t Use Gasoline to Start a Fire
Attempting to light a fire with gasoline is one of the most dangerous things you can do when it comes to putting yourself at risk of a fire or getting burned. Not only is liquid gas highly flammable, but the fumes are, as well; meaning that the air around your fireplace is just as flammable as the gasoline you’re pouring into it. Once a match is struck the fumes can (and often do) explode violently.
Repair Cracks in Your Fireplace
Maintaining the integrity of your fireplace and chimney is essential to keeping your home safe while your fireplace is in use. Some repairs can be performed using “DIY” methods, but if the damage to your fireplace is extensive, or you aren’t completely sure about how to repair it yourself, involve a professional who can assist you.
Have Your Gas Fireplace Inspected
Just because your home has a gas-burning fireplace doesn’t mean that you can forgo annual maintenance. In fact, because gas is both extremely flammable and dangerous to inhale, it’s important to have all gas lines and connections inspected before you begin using it.
For more information about staying fire safe, contact the experts at Bison Fire Protection at (204) 237-3473.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The changing seasons are the perfect opportunity to review your fire safety knowledge. While many fire safety measures stay the same regardless of the season, as leaves fall from the trees and we turn on our heating systems it’s important to reassess and make sure that we are being as safe as possible.
However, with the change of seasons also comes changes in fire safety, so it’s important to be mindful of the changes that different seasons will bring.
Are you being fire safe this fall? Check out our to-do list of steps to take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this fall season:
Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries
The easiest way to remember to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors is to change them with the change of seasons; when winter turns to spring, and when summer turns to fall. At the same time, make a point to double-check that your fire extinguishers are all fully charged and in working order.
If you have trouble remembering to add these tasks to your fall to-do list, just remember that they should be completed around the same time as Daylight Savings Time is implemented. That way, you always have a bi-annual reminder to stay fire safe.
Check your Fire Extinguisher
Check your Fire Extinguisher. Make sure the gauge is in the green. Invert the cylinder to feel the powder moving inside. Ensure the hose is not plugged with dirt, dust, of a comfy looking spider.
If you are not sure of the condition, or have used the extinguisher, bring it in to our shop to be professionally serviced. Once used an extinguisher needs to be recharged even if there is still powder left in the tank. The expellant will leak out over time leaving the extinguisher incapable of operating when you need it.
Check Your Central Heating
Before you start putting your central heating system into overdrive, make sure to have your system inspected, cleaned, and serviced by a certified heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor.
If you use a gas heater then make sure to double (or triple!) check that you have a sufficient amount of fully functioning carbon monoxide detectors installed.
Use Your Space Heater Safely
Winters on the prairies can be unforgiving and it’s not uncommon for us to “boost” our indoor heat by using a space heater. However, it’s important to be extra-careful around these portable and handy little units, as they can easily become causes for alarm.
Some things to keep in mind when using your space heater are:
- Ensure that there is at least 3ft of empty space around your space heater.
- Never put clothes or blankets over the space heater to dry.
- Turn off your space heater when you leave the house or go to bed.
- Don’t store combustible products near your space heater.
Be Outdoor Fire Safe
As the leaves begin to fall they can become brittle and flammable, so make sure to have your roof and gutters cleaned of debris, such as leaves, old bird’s nests, and pine needles.
If you have an overwhelming amount of leaves on your property, make sure to double-check the City of Winnipeg outdoor burning regulations (or the regulations from your local municipality) and do not engage in the illegal burning of leaves and other outdoor materials.
For more information about how you can prevent fires at home and at work, contact the professionals at Bison Fire Protection at (204) 237-3473 today.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
For many people, burning leaves is a tradition that many families enjoy and look forward to each year as the seasons change and the days grow shorter and cooler. Often the sight and smells of these bonfires can signal the start of fall just as much as the first frost, or the sight of pumpkins and squash.
However, if you’re planning to burn leaves in your yard or in a field this season it’s important to take the necessary fire safety precautions in order to avoid dangerous situations where sparks and embers could escape and ignite your home, or surrounding trees and bushes.
Make sure to follow these important steps in order to stay safe while enjoying this autumn tradition:
Apply for an Open-Air Permit
If you live within the City of Winnipeg them you need to apply for a fire permit before you can legally burn leaves. Not only does applying for a permit ensure that you have the appropriate space and location, but it is critical that you obtain legal permission to burn your leaves. Otherwise you may find yourself facing legal action from the city.
If you’re outside of Winnipeg, make sure to check with your local city or municipal government to make sure that you apply for the appropriate permits.
Keep Your Fire Small
If you have lots of leaves to burn, don’t dump them into a huge pile and burn them all at once. This can easily get out of control and become an emergency situation very quickly, so limit your batch sizes to ones which can easily be controlled by the person in charge.
Only Burn Leaves During the Day
While the idea of burning your leaves during the night, or at twilight, may sound charming, it is incredibly unsafe to do so because it becomes harder to see what is happening around you at night. While the pile of leaves may be burning brightly, you may not notice embers or sparks ignite nearby greenery until the situation has escalated beyond your control.
Not only that, but it becomes harder to properly fight a large fire at night because you can’t easily access your fire extinguisher, hose, and other extinguishing supplies.
Never Leave Your Fire Unattended
Fire spreads more quickly than many of us realize, and while it may seem okay to run inside to answer the phone, use the washroom, or make a snack, you never know what a fire will do in your absence and it is critical that you never leave a fire unattended.
The best practice in these situations is to have one or two other capable adults with you while you burn your leaves, so that if you need to run inside for a moment you can be confident that your fire won’t be left unattended.
Keep A Fire Extinguisher Or Water Hose Nearby
A fire extinguisher in good working condition or a water hose kept in close proximity to the fire will aid in the event the fire begins to spread. If you can catch it early enough these types of protection will work. Fire grows exponentially if you can't get the fire back in control quickly call the fire department immediately. Never put the safety of yourself or others at risk.
Stay safe this season by trusting in the experts from Bison Fire Protection. Give us a call today at (204) 237-3473 to learn more about how we can help.