The Province is partnering with Technical Safety BC and the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund to raise awareness about preventing home fires and injuries during Burn Awareness Week 2021, Feb. 7-13.
The theme this year is Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap! While electricity is often not given a second thought – plugging in devices to charge, watching TV, snuggling under a heated blanket – caution and safety need to be kept in mind. As reported to the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), B.C. had 12 injuries and two deaths related to electrical fires in 2020.
“Even one injury or one death due to electrical fire is too many. These days, people are spending more time at home due to the pandemic, so now is a great time to check for any electrical hazards in your home,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “I encourage everyone in B.C. to invest in the safety of their loved ones by taking a few minutes to prevent an emergency situation from happening at home.”
In order to prevent electrical fires and burns, people are advised to:
- have all electrical work done by a licensed electrician;
- only use one heat-producing appliance (e.g., coffee maker, toaster, space heater) plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time;
- plug major appliances (e.g., refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens) directly into a wall outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used for major appliances;
- check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets;
- only use extension cords for temporary use. A licensed electrician can add more receptacle outlets so extension cords are not required; and
- use a light bulb with the right number of watts. There should be a sticker on the light or lamp that indicates the correct wattage to be used.
“This year, especially as more people work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for people to be aware of fire and burn hazards in their home workspaces,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “I encourage everyone to look for ways to reduce their risk of fires or burns and maintain a safe workplace, because wherever you work from, safety matters.”
The OFC has launched new social media channels on Twitter and Facebook. It is partnering with Technical Safety BC and the BC Professional Firefighters’ Burn Fund on a smoke-alarm giveaway on Facebook. There will be seven winners.
Gord Ditchburn, president, BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund –
“As reported to the OFC, there were 563 fires in British Columbia caused by electrical faults last year. These fires caused more than $29 million in content and property damage, and impacted hundreds of lives across British Columbia. Survivors of these fires may be left with devastating burn injuries that can be both external and internal, potentially seriously harming the brain. Take the time to educate yourself and your family about electrical hazards, so that together we can build safer communities and reduce the risk of these life-changing injuries from ever occurring.”
Michael Pilato, technical leader - electrical, Technical Safety BC –
“Electrical fires are often preventable. It is important that British Columbians make smart safety decisions when dealing with electrical technologies in their homes. Preventing electrical fires in the home can start with simple decisions, such as using a power bar that is approved for use in Canada or ensuring all electrical work in your home is completed by a licensed electrician.”
Office of the Fire Commissioner resources:
National Fire Protection Association resources:
American Burn Association resources: http://ameriburn.org/prevention/burn-awareness-week/
WorkSafeBC resources when working from home:
Technical Safety BC’s find a licensed contractor tool: https://www.technicalsafetybc.ca/find-licensed-contractor