It’s an unfortunate fact that stories about tragic fires, from large ones involving several buildings to smaller fires in homes, appear regularly in the news. Statistics bear out this sad and sobering truth: The place where we feel the safest is where we’re most likely to die in a fire.

Why is that? The simple answer is that we tend to give fire prevention only a passing thought. We place more value on how our house looks thank on safety. But fire officials hope Fire Prevention Week this year October 4-10, will motivate all of us to rethink that mentality.

What happens if there is a fire?

Alarms are the first line of defense- but they’re not much good without a strategy in place if they do go off. Fire ladders and extinguishers can be effective tools, although they could give you a false sense of security if you don’t know how to use them properly. What’s needed most is a fire escape plan:

  • Identify two ways out of each room
  • Ensure children know how to exit by themselves, is necessary
  • Provide for those who require extra help (e.g., the elderly and disabled)
  • Agree on an outdoor meeting place
  • Phone the fire department from outside

So now you’re all set right?

While fires are often visible, there’s a hidden killer that may lurk in your homes: carbon monoxide (CO). Detectors are required in many regions, with Ontario being the latest to mandate one in every residence, near each sleeping area. If you experience any of the physical warning signs or if the alarm goes off leave immediately and call emergency services.

What about keeping safe away from home?


  • review the escape plan posted on your hotel/motel door, then count the number of doors between your room and the nearest exit
  • Keep your room key next to your bed and take it if you have to leave


  • study the evacuation plan (often posted near the elevators) at your office
  • know the location of all exits in stores, restaurants, etc


  • When an alarm sounds, leave immediately, closing doors behind you
  • Use the stairs, never the elevator
  • If there’s smoke, crawl below it
  • if you can’t escape, show off heating/cooling systems, stuff wet towels around the door, let the fire department know your location and wait by a window




This article is courtesy of Penny Musco, freelance writer. Story published in Costco Connections September/October 2015 | Volume 28 | Number 5

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