‘Grand Evacuations’ take place in Lachine and Ste. Anne de Bellevue
By Kevin Woodhouse
As a way of sensitizing homeowners the need for an escape plan in the event of a fire, the Montreal Fire Department held an exercise known as the Grand Evacuation last Wednesday evening throughout eight municipalities and boroughs across the island of Montreal. Out in the West Island, Lachine and Ste. Anne de Bellevue took part in the safety exercise, along a street in each municipality to take part in a simulated fire drill complete with fire trucks and personnel.
“The exercise helps people reflect and think of an escape plan to get their family out of the house safely,” said department spokesperson Louise Desrosiers. “We cannot be everywhere so we ask citizens to take part.”
For those not involved in the simulated fire drill, Desrosiers offered some suggestions for families that can be done at home.
Since most fires tend to happen at night “they can take us by surprise as it is a lot harder to sleep, and you have been asleep and might be a little confused,” said Desrosiers. “Do a drill during the day but have everyone wear a blindfold so the entire family gets used to their house in the dark.”
A working smoke detector is key to a prompt escape because “without a working detector, your plan will never work,” Desrosiers said.. According to recent statistics, 30 per cent of all Montreal households do not have working smoke detectors.
During an escape from a burning house, only pick up pets that you see on the way out. “Don’t search for them because next you will want your purse, wallet or tablet. The list becomes endless and time is a factor during a fire,” said Desrosiers. She suggested to leave your home as quickly a possible and then call 911, “allowing for professional firefighters to save your animals.”
When asked if home fireplaces are the cause of many winter fires, Desrosiers noted that due to strict insurance rules for placement of wood stoves, fires caused by them are uncommon while kitchen fires, particularly those involving cooking oil on the stove, happen too often and can be prevented.
“Using a thermo fryer is safer as the machine is temperature controlled,” said Desrosiers. “Use a timer when cooking oil so if you become distracted or busy, the timer’s warning bell will remind you.”
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