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Smoke Alarm Not Working In Blaze That Killed 4

August 22, 2011

The house where a mother and three children were killed in Alexandria, Ontario, only had one working smoke alarm and only one exit.  Investigators found that there was a working smoke alarm on the main level of the home, but the second-level alarm near the home’s bedrooms had no battery.  What a tragedy!

Many homeowners are unaware of the importance of smoke detectors in their home, and therefore unaware of the important role smoke detectors play in their family’s safety.

Did you know that smoke inhalation is the leading cause of home fire deaths, not complications from burns?


(Alberta Fire Statistics 1980-1999 – Alberta Fire Commissioner’s Office)

  • Residential fires cause approx. $51 million worth of damage every year in Alberta.
  • Out of all the fire deaths in the province, 65% were from residential fires.
  • Careless cooking is the number one cause of residential fires.
  • Cooking, candles and smoking, the top three causes of residential fires are responsible for 59% of the home fires in Alberta in 1999, and 54% of total dollar value lost.
  • Arson accounts for more fires in Edmonton (16%) than in Calgary (10%), whereas  smoking causes more fires in Calgary (21%) than in Edmonton (11%).
  • In Calgary and Edmonton, fires caused by candles account for the largest dollar value lost. $2.7 million in Calgary, $2 million in Edmonton
  • 43% of the homes that had fires during 1999 had no smoke detectors.
  • 75% of deaths pertaining to fires are the result of smoke inhalation.

  • The cause and severity of fires are often a direct result of people being careless.  The top three causes of residential fires (cooking, candles and smoking) are all preventable.  These fires are typically the result of a person being distracted or not exercising good judgement.
(Canadian Direct Insurance)
  • An individual was heating a baby bottle in a pot on the stove.  Leaving the kitchen to attend to a baby, the water boiled dry and caused a fire that destroyed the kitchen and caused extensive smoke damage.  Approximate loss $100,000.
  • One person tried to dispose of old magazines by burning them in a fireplace.  This attempt was unsuccessful, so the person moved the magazines to the garage and added gasoline.  The result was an out of control fire that burned down the entire house.  A family pet was also lost in the fire.  Approximate loss $250,000.
  • An individual was renovating a house and decided to complete the wiring without professional help.  The wires arced and a fire ensued causing $350,000 in damage.
  • An individual left home with chicken noodle soup cooking on the stove.  A fire ensued resulting in fire, smoke and grease damage throughout the condominium.  Approximate loss $44,000.
  • Kitchen fires are the number one cause of home fires, so always remain in the kitchen while using appliances.
  • Keep flammable items, such as dishtowels, paper or plastic bags, and curtains a minimum of 3 feet away from the stove top.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen.  Keep it 10 feet away from the stove on the exit side of the kitchen.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire; turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.
  • Don’t store items on the stove top, as they could catch fire.
  • Don’t wear loose clothes while cooking.  An electrical coil on the stove reaches a temperature of 800°  and a gas flame goes over 1,000 °.  A dishtowel, potholder or a loose sleeve can catch fire at 400 °.
  • Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove regularly.
  • Sleep with the bedroom door closed .  In the event of fire, it helps hold back heat and smoke.  But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape through another door or window.
While prevention is the most important step to home fire safety, in the case of a home fire, a monitored smoke detector, as part of your monitored security system, is the best protection for you and your family.  With an approved monitored smoke detector, your home is safe from fire and smoke damage, and you are given quick access to the authorities, whether you are at home, away or sound asleep.  Your monitored smoke detector sends a signal to the monitoring station who dispatches your fire department in case of emergency.  In addition, the keypad of your security system should include panic buttons for police, fire and ambulance for all your safety needs.
  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test every smoke detector at least once a month.  Simply push the test button until you hear the alarm.  (Call your monitoring station and inform them before you are testing!)
  • Replace batteries at least once a year, or more often if the detector makes a chirping sound.
  • If your smoke detector is over 10 years old, replace it.
With the help of monitored smoke detectors and other preventative measures, your home, and most importantly your family, will be safe and secure.
If you don’t have a security system or don’t have it monitored, call me for a free, no-obligation consultation.  You will be glad you did!
Ulli Robson, Security Specialist, (780) 288-2986

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