Volume 95, Issue 43

Friday, November 16, 2001
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An ounce of prevention

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

An ounce of prevention

Do you know where your fire extinguisher is? Have the batteries been changed in your smoke detector recently? If you are like most students, it probably took a bit of thinking to answer these questions.

With a 20 page essay due and a roommate that will not stop playing his favorite Moffat tunes, fire prevention is probably the last thing on a student's mind.

However, fire remains a serious threat for many people and they do not even realize it. A deadly example of this occurred Sunday, when a young London girl died in a house fire.

The home did not have a working fire alarm.

It is easy to ignore the potential fire dangers that exist, especially when fire drills are much more common than actual fires.

It is not unusual for someone to pull the fire alarm for either their own amusement or simply to get out of class – as business 020 students found out during a recent exam.

Many people have become so desensitized they do not always leave a building when an alarm goes off. Alarmingly, a large number of people remove batteries from their alarms to prevent unnecessary disturbances.

But the annoyance of a false alarm is worth the hassle. Not only can fires kill, but they can turn latex paints and fiberglass into toxic fumes. Even if you survive a fire you could have long-term health effects.

Students should become aware of the dangers that exist in their homes. Simple things can be done to reduce the chance of fire.

Turn off irons, space heaters and curling irons immediately after using them. Do not overload electrical outlets. Be cautious of candles, do not leave stove elements on, never smoke in bed, throw baking soda – not water – on grease fires and clean out the lint trap in the dryer.

Escape plans are another thing many people forget to make. Take time to figure out a few different escape routes to get out of your house safely. Sit down with your roommates and choose a place to meet outside – it may feel like you are back in grade two, but some things are worth repeating.

Every house should have a working fire alarm and a fire extinguisher. Basement apartments inside homes must be regulated under the fire code. If you feel your home or apartment does not meet safety standards, city officials will come and evaluate it.

Landlords are responsible for replacing and maintaining fire alarms in each room. Do not change their batteries yourself. Property managers can be charged under the law for infringements of the fire code.

While serious fires are rare and the cost of fire preparedness can be daunting, it should not take the death of an eight-year-old to make us think twice.

Take ten minutes this weekend to find your extinguisher and to check that your smoke detector works. Who knows – it may save the lives of you or someone you love.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001