Having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and never leaving cooking unattended can go a long way to prevent fires.
A recent proliferation of fires in Central Alberta, some devastating, have Red Deer Emergency Services reminding residents, renters and homeowners of all the important steps to prevent a fire.
Fire prevention officer Shane Dussault said the most common type of fire they respond to occurs when people leave cooking unattended.
“It’s the No. 1 cause of fires in Red Deer and across North America,” said Dussault.
Over the winter, a woman living in a duplex she rented through Red Deer Public Housing was the victim of a fire. It spread through the home after she turned her back to her stove for a few seconds.
In spring, the most common fire starts with a cigarette butt. Dussault said the dry conditions associated with the early spring give a discarded cigarette butt plenty of fuel to start a fire.
“Disposing of cigarette butts into planter boxes has become a very common one,” he said.
“You have the dried out peat moss in the planter boxes and you put a cigarette in there and the wind blows it up against the house, causing fires. It becomes a very large cause of fires.”
Chimney fires, like a recent one in Bower, can be mitigated by proper maintenance.
Starting next month, Red Deer Emergency Services personnel will resume their home safety program.
Members go door to door and offer free home safety inspections and recommendations.
The plan is to get to every residence and business once every 10 years.
While it is completely voluntary, they go through a home with a comprehensive checklist and show what can be improved.
From May to October, as with every year, they will be out doing checks and making sure each building has a working smoke alarm.
The most common way to prevent fires is to keep fresh batteries in smoke alarms. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are valuable tools to alert residents to dangers. It is recommended that they are checked monthly and that batteries are replaced annually.
For renters, the oft-forgotten tenant or content insurance can be the difference between having nothing at all or having some help should their home catch fire. Dussault said he often sees people without this insurance.
“We see it time and time again where people don’t have tenant’s insurance,” said Dussault. “The building gets rebuilt because the owner has insurance on the building, but the people who had the fire just lost everything they own and don’t have insurance to replace it.”
A recent fire in Penhold destroyed a three-storey apartment building and everything in it.