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Smoking Is A Leading Cause Of Fatal Residential Fires In CK

Chatham-Kent’s health unit and fire department are educating residents about the dangers of lighting up indoors.

Fire Prevention Week runs until Saturday in Chatham-Kent and is a joint initiative between the Chatham-Kent Fire & Emergency Services (CKFES) and the Chatham Kent Public Health Unit (CKPHU) to inform residents about how to reduce the risk of house fires. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out,” which teaches residents how to develop a home escape plan and practice it.

Public Education Officer Whitney Burk says the health unit’s goal during this week-long campaign is encourage more smoke-free homes and multi-unit buildings. According to a news release, smoking is a leading cause of fatal residential fires in Chatham-Kent.

“We aim to educate landlords about the risks of smoking in multi-unit dwellings across Chatham-Kent. Our hope is that we will start to increase the number of smoke-free housing options in the community,” says Burk.

Not only does smoking indoors cause second-hand smoke and other health dangers, but it can also increase the risk of a house fire.

“We know that there may be less than three minutes for us to get out safely once a fire has started, so it’s just really important that we can reduce the risk by not smoking in homes and disposing of cigarettes safely when smoking outside,” explains Burk.

According to a 2014 report by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, 89% of Ontarians think that smoking should not be allowed in multi-unit housing.

CKFES will be visiting apartments over three storeys this week to discuss the “My Part – Apartment Fire & Emergency Safety Planning” campaign.

“We’re going to be visiting all the high rises across Chatham and Wallaceburg. We’re going door-to-door and speaking to the residents who live there about safe evacuation, shelter-in-place, checking their alarms, and just discussing overall fire safety, which includes smoking in the home,” says Burk.

For more information about the Fire Prevention Week or the My Part – Apartment Fire & Emergency Safety Planning campaign go online or call CKFES at (519)-360-1198. For information about smoke-free policies go online or call Chatham Kent Public Health at (519)-352-7270.