Residents are reminded to think about fire safety during COVID‑19 pandemic

Home smoke alarm with smoke billowing

With large numbers of Winnipeg residents staying at home to help control the spread of COVID-19 in our community, many households are busier than usual. As families are balancing work, school, childcare, and recreation from home, now is the perfect time to discuss fire safety as a family.

“This is already a difficult time for everyone. The last thing anyone needs right now is a fire in their home. All fires are preventable,” said Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) Assistant Chief Mark Reshaur.

Last year, the WFPS responded to 574 structure fires, causing injuries and millions of dollars in damage. This is why Reshaur says it’s important for residents to be aware of the risks and always protect themselves from fires.

“Having a working smoke alarm is imperative,” said Reshaur.

“We are most vulnerable to fire when we sleep, so ensuring your alarms are working and can be heard from sleeping areas in your home is important. Alarms need to be tested monthly.”

One of the most common causes of house fires is accidental cooking fires. Residents should never leave the stove or oven unattended, as fire can happen quickly.

Reshaur added that it’s important to keep your stove and oven clean and keep anything flammable away from the cooking surface. Always stand by your pan, and keep children away from a hot oven. As well, if a fire starts when you’re cooking with oil, do not put water on the flames. Instead, put a tight-fitting lid on the pan, turn off the element, and do not move the pan.

Additional fire prevention tips include:

  • If you’re working from home, remember a laptop battery can cause a fire. If you use a laptop on a couch or a bed, make sure the battery is vented and your laptop does not overheat. Do not leave a laptop on a bed or soft surface unattended. Never use a damaged extension cord, and limit the number of electronics you plug into an outlet or power bar.
  • Do not pile yard waste or other garbage up against fences or buildings. Waste is often flammable and fire can spread quickly outside before it is noticed. If you have bulky waste (like furniture) in your yard, call 311 to schedule a bulk waste pickup. Only put your garbage and yard waste out on your designated pickup day.
  • Discuss fire safety with your kids so they know how to stay safe in the event of a fire. Every home should have an escape plan that everyone in the family can follow. Plan how you will escape your home in a fire and where you will meet. Remind children that if a fire starts in your home, everyone should get out, stay out and call 911.

“We’re all trying to stay safe right now, and fire prevention is another critical part of that equation,” said Reshaur.

For more information about Fire Prevention, visit winnipeg.ca/fps, where you’ll find resources for homeowners, parents, and activities for children.

COVID-19 Emergency and safety Homeowner, renter and business information

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