Preparing for disaster

    Emergencies rarely strike on a schedule or when it is convenient.
    When one does occur, it is important to have a plan since every second counts in an emergency.
    “The reason for planning for emergencies is quite simple,” said Chestermere Fire Services (CFS) Capt. Brent Paquette.
    “When something does happen that everybody in the family know exactly what to do,” he said.
    The National Fire Prevention Week runs from Oct. 8 to Oct. 14. This year’s theme is Every Second Counts, Plan Two Ways Out.
    During Fire Prevention Week, the department willing be putting the spot light on emergency preparedness.
    While there will be an added focus on preparedness, Paquette said that the department tries, “to do fire prevention every day.”
    This year, CFS members alongside the fire prevention coalition will be going door to door talking to residents about home escape plans, and hazard identification in the home.
    “We have a home safety checklist,” he said, “we’ll be focusing solely on that for the nights of the eighth to the fourteenth.”
    Firefighters won’t be able to visit every home in the city and will be focusing their visits on older communities and homes in Chestermere.
    Paquette said that anyone who doesn’t get a visit from firefighters but would like to discuss preparedness and safety I the home can call CFS at (403) 272-9878 to book a visit.
    “We’d love for them to contact the firehall if they would like a hazard assessment done and a home safety checklist,” he said.
    With this year’s theme, Paquette said that it is important when creating a plan to consider, how to get out, where to take shelter so firefighters can make a rescue, where to meet outside of the home, and how to rescue pets.
    “There’s some people that we’ve met that have trained their dog off of the sound of the smoke detector to go to the front door,” said Paquette.
    He stresses the importance of including pets in escape plans since it is common for people to try and re-enter burning buildings to try and rescue a pet.
    “A good home escape plan would mean that everybody in the family knows what to do in case of that emergency,” said Paquette.
    Having a plan to get everyone to safety not only protects family members but firefighters as well.
    In a house fire, the size of the fire will double every 30 seconds.
    “By knowing your two ways out is absolutely a fantastic thing,” he said.
    Being able to account for everyone in the home is also important as it impacts how firefighters attack a fire.
    Paquette said that if everyone isn’t accounted for firefighters will assume someone is trapped in the building.
    “We’re willing to risk a lot to save a lot,” he said.
    Another initiative that is back this year to promote safety amongst children is the Honourary Junior Firefighter program.
    Paquette said that last year both the kids and firefighters really enjoyed the program.
    Parents can download the Junior Firefighter colouring page and fire escape plan on the city’s website and once kids have completed both they can bring them into the Fire Hall.
    At the hall, the colouring page will be hung and the kids will receive their Junior Firefighter certificate.
    They’ll also have a chance to visit with the duty shift if they are at the hall.
    For more information on the Honourary Junior Firefighter program go to www.chestermere.ca/714/Honourary-Jr-Firefighter-Program.

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