CALGARY, May 10, 2011 – Wildfires are a natural hazard in any forested and grassland region in Canada. Typically, the wildfire season in Canada runs from April through to October. The months of June, July and August see the most fires and the fires that burn the largest amount of land. As we enter another wildfire season, and since wildfires can leave us with little warning before they spread, it is important to take the proper precautions and remind ourselves of what to do if a fire is headed our way.
“In Canada, 55 per cent of all forest fires are caused by people, while lightning causes the remaining 45 per cent,” says Eric Michalko of Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “Understanding how fires begin is crucial to preventing them; however, we also need to know what do to when faced with one.”
Each year there are approximately 8,000 wildfires in Canada, destroying approximately 25,000 square kilometres of land. Fires can threaten public health and safety, destroy property and cause economic hardship. British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario have the most wildfires due to the terrain and elevation. The Maritimes are particularly vulnerable to wildfires due to the windy weather this region experiences. Winds supply fire with additional oxygen, further dries potential fuel and pushes fire across the land at a faster rate.
To help protect what Canadians have today and to better prepare for tomorrow, Allstate Canada offers these preparation and safety tips for keeping your home and surrounding area fire free:
To Prepare for a Fire:
If you live near a wooded area, a debris-free lawn around your home can be your best protection during a wildfire, as it acts as a natural firebreak between the house and the surrounding woodland. Keep the perimeter of your home free of fire hazards such as dead leaves, brush or other debris. Store firewood and other sources of fuel at least 10 metres away from the walls of your home.
Keep a fire extinguisher and install smoke detectors on every floor of your home. Be sure that your fire extinguisher is labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC). Test the smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries on the same dates twice a year, such as daylight savings time.
Homes that are located in or near a forested area are at the greatest risk of wildfire. When building or upgrading your home, consider using fire resistant material such as metal, asphalt and ULC-treated shakes for roofs and stucco, metal, brick and concrete for the foundation. The most fire resistant glass is tempered glass.
Create an emergency preparedness plan and kit in case you have to evacuate your home or town. This kit should have a three-day supply of food, water and other essential items. For a full list of what to include visit goodhandsadvice.ca/en/build-an-emergency-kit.
Practice your emergency preparedness plan with your family to ensure that they know what to do in the event of a fire. Rehearse the Stop, Drop and Roll drill in the event their clothes catch on fire.
In the Event of a Fire:
- Smoke is the cause of the majority of fire-related deaths. In addition to deadly carbon monoxide, smoke carries poisons such as hydrogen cyanide and irritants such as formaldehyde and acetic acid. Be sure to stay low and cover your mouth and nose and if available, breathe through a damp cloth to avoid smoke inhalation.
Protect exposed skin with clothing or non-flammable material. If you are spending time outdoors, like camping, consider wearing natural fibres such as wool or cotton. Synthetic fabrics, even if worn as underwear, will melt.
- If you are indoors, keep doors and windows closed and all lights on to aid visibility.
- Be ready to evacuate at any time. When you need to leave, gather all family members and pets and head to the neighbourhood meeting place listed in your emergency preparedness plan.
About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of Canada’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products. “The Good Hands Network®” enables consumers to contact Allstate Canada through one of 94 community-based Agencies, directly online at www.allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-Allstate. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), Crime Stoppers, United Way and Junior Achievement. In 2010, Allstate Canada, in partnership with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), created the Allstate All-Canadians program, a mentorship program designed to guide the next generation of Canada’s hockey youth. Learn more at www.allstate.all-canadians.com.