The Okotoks Fire Department believes that it is vital for fire and safety education to reach all audiences. Watch for our education campaigns throughout the year via our Social Media Pages, Okotoks.ca website, and local media. We also visit schools throughout the year and you can find us out at local community events.
The days may be getting longer and hotter but the risks associated with enjoying the Sheep River remain the same. While enjoying a sunny afternoon dip in river sounds ideal, swimmers must always take the appropriate safety precautions.
Water levels in rivers can fluctuate and the depths can vary dramatically. Slippery rocks can cause falls and feet can become trapped. Rivers in the foothills can contain debris like logs and overhanging trees, making entering the water extremely risky. Swimmers and rafters can easily get caught in these hazards and the current can cause them to become trapped. Even shallow rivers currents are very forceful. It is important to scout the river and assess dangers. If you are unsure of hazards stay away from that part of the river.
As the river is an unguarded area, people must always use caution when around a body of water. Recreation seekers must be aware of their surroundings and the potential hazards.
According to the Lifesaving Society's Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch (www.lifesaving.org), even during the summertime, most Canadian bodies of water are cold enough to be considered a major contributing factor in recreational drowning deaths.
The society suggests the following safety measures:
- every family member meet the Swim to Survive standard — where you roll into deep water, tread water for one minute then swim 50 metres.
- wear life jackets (even when not boating)
- check the weather forecast before heading out
- do not consume alcoholic beverages
- closely supervise children
- swim with a buddy
- never dive into shallow water
Ice may look solid, but because of the way it melts, it will dramatically weaken even as it retains its thickness. When water freezes, minerals in the water make vertical veins in the ice. Referred to as candelling, these veins melt faster than the rest of the ice, resulting in vertical channels that allows the ice to weaken in these channels. Ice that could support a truck in the middle of January will crumble with the weight of a child when the temperatures hover around freezing.
If someone has fallen through the ice:
- Call 911
- Yell for help
- If you are on the weak ice, slowly lie down to distribute your weight and crawl or roll away from the broken or cracked area
- Do NOT step on the ice. If you see someone fall through the ice, keep your distance as the ice may not be thick enough to hold you up
- Call out to the person who has fallen in and tell them to grab as far up onto the edge of the ice as he/she can and to start kicking their feet like they are swimming. The kicking motion will help keep the person afloat and it is possible that the person may be able to swim right up onto the ice.
- Extend your reach with a tree branch, hockey stick, ladder, belt, scarf, jacket or anything. Only reach them from shore because as soon as you go out onto the ice, you too are in danger of falling through creating two victims instead of one
- Extend whatever you are holding to the person in the water and tell the person to keep kicking. This will help propel the person out while you are doing the pulling
- Tell them to roll or crawl to safety to lower their chance of falling through the ice again
- Try to keep them as warm as possible until help arrives
Fire Services and Municipal Enforcement would like to remind residents that there is a real danger of falling through the ice on storm retention ponds and the Sheep River due to changing water levels. Water quality and changing weather conditions, ice quality and thickness can be significantly reduced. Storm pond water/ice contact is prohibited. It is dangerous to walk, play or skate on any open bodies of water.
Bylaw 22-12 8.1 A BYLAW OF THE TOWN OF OKOTOKS IN THE PROVINCE OF ALBERTA TO REGULATE THE USE OF OPEN SPACES AND RECREATION FACILITIES
No person shall enter, wade, swim or skate, in or upon a storm water pond located within the Town.
No person shall: a) jump, dive, or otherwise propel themselves, from or off any amenity into a storm water pond within the Town; b) affix or secure themselves to any structure or amenity for the purposes of water play in a storm water pond located within the Town.
Here are some seasonal home fire safety tips from the Okotoks Fire Department:
1. Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Make sure you have them and that they’re working. Book a free Home Fire Safety Inspection by calling 403-938-4066 for peace of mind.
2. Light up the night without igniting the lights
- Purchase extension cords for the specific job – don’t improvise with an indoor cord outdoors, or daisy chain several shorter cords instead of just getting a longer one.
- As with extension cords, indoor-rated light strings and pre-lit trees are for indoor use only. Products marked for indoor use are not designed to hold up against the elements. However it is safe though to use outdoor extension cords and light strings indoors.
- It is not a good idea to connect different types of light strings together. For example, don’t plug in a new LED string to your old incandescent light string.
- Do not run extension cords under carpets, out windows or doorways where they could become pinched.
- Inspect light strings/set and extension cords before use, and discard any that show signs of wear or damage.
- Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
- If using candles, burn them in proper holders, on sturdy surfaces away from children and pets. Put out candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Do not overload electrical outlets.
- Be mindful of ladder placement when hanging outdoor lights or decorating your Christmas tree. Ensure it is safely secured on an even ground and that you have someone to hold the ladder for you.
3. Staying warm
- If you must use a space heater, plug it directly into a wall outlet, not into an extension cord or power bar. Give it lots of room -- at least 1 m (3 feet) of space on all sides, and turn it off before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Consider replacing old space heaters with newer models that turn off automatically when tipped or overheating.
- Use a barrier to keep children and pets away from gas or wood burning fireplaces when they are in use.
- Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace.
4. Cooking safe
- Don’t leave grilling, frying or broiling unattended.
- Keep cooking surfaces clutter-free
5. The Tree
- Real or fake, the good news is Christmas trees rarely catch fire. Nevertheless, if using a real one, make sure to keep it well-watered and away from sources of heat. Never use candles on or near the tree.
- Ensure a real tree is watered regularly to prevent it from drying out.
- Turn your tree lights out before you go to bed.
Smoke alarms, when properly installed, tested and maintained, provide the best early warning system in the event of a house fire. Detection and warning of smoke and fire saves lives and reduces damage to homes and personal belongings.
Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
People who die in home fires, often die from breathing in smoke and toxic gases emitted from fire. These poisonous gases can render a person confused, disoriented or even unconscious after only a few short breaths. Toxic effects may overcome residents before they have time to escape or even wake up from sleeping. A smoke alarm combines smoke detection and alarm sounding in one unit.
What you should know
Test smoke alarms once a month by pressing the alarm's test button and replace the batteries of each smoke alarm once a year.
Replace smoke alarms after 10 years. Or, if you discover a smoke alarm is defective or broken after testing, replace it.
Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement, and ensure there is a smoke alarm in or near every sleeping area.
There are several types of smoke alarms and detectors. Alarms using ionization technology are best suited for detecting fast-flaming fires. Alarms using photoelectric technology are best suited for detecting slow, smouldering fires.
For the best protection, installing both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or combination ionization/photoelectric alarms (also known as dual sensor alarms) is recommended.
When purchasing a smoke alarm, look for a product that has been manufactured and tested to an acceptable standard, indicated by a marking for the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC), or Underwriters Laboratories Incorporated (cUL).
- Smoke alarms may be powered by battery (9 volt), hard-wired to your home electrical system, or hard-wired to your home with a battery backup. Regardless of how a smoke alarm is powered, it should be replaced after 10 years.
- Sleep with bedroom doors closed. Test smoke alarms to ensure you and your family will be able to hear and wake-up at the sound of the alarm and if not, install smoke alarms inside bedrooms to ensure residents will hear when sleeping.
- Basic care instructions for a smoke alarm include:
- Regular vacuuming with a soft bristle attachment can help keep a smoke alarm working properly. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning.
- Do not paint or decorate smoke alarms.
- Installation information:
- Install all alarms as per the manufacturer's recommendations, keeping in mind the required clearances.
- Installing smoke alarms on the ceiling is recommended as smoke, heat and combustion products rise to the ceiling and spread horizontally.
- Smoke alarms may be installed inside bedrooms, to ensure residents will hear them when sleeping with and can be interconnected with alarms installed in hallways and common areas.
- When your smoke alarm is activated without the presence of smoke or fire, it is called a ‘nuisance alarm’. This may happen because the smoke alarm needs to be cleaned or is too close kitchen appliances which emit smoke or steam and set the smoke alarm off. Consider relocating the smoke alarm further away from kitchens and bathrooms or install a smoke alarm with a "hush" feature, which allows temporary silencing of the alarm.
- Hard-wired smoke alarms, which operate on your household electrical current, can be interconnected so that every smoke alarm sounds when smoke is detected by just one alarm. This is an advantage, because residents are given more time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery back-ups in case of a power outage.
Source: City of Calgary
The Okotoks Fire Department receives an influx of calls regarding carbon monoxide during the winter when we experience very cold temperatures with an abundance of snow. This contributes to a risk factor, but residents should be careful at all times during the year.
There are two most common factors contributing to the increase in calls. The first is people leaving cars running in their garages. Even with the garage door open, there can be a hazardous build up of fumes. Always move your car out of your garage to warm it up.
Secondly, newer homes with high efficiency furnaces which have intakes and exhausts down low on the exterior of the house, are, in some cases, being blocked by snow drifts and causing a back up of carbon monoxide in the home. If you have a new home with a high efficiency furnace, ensure that the exhaust and intake are not blocked.
Best way to stay safe is to have a carbon monoxide detector installed according to the manufactures instructions and ensure the batteries are checked and changed regularly. As well, you should have all of your fuel-burning appliances checked annually.
Use this document to assist you with the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors: Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless, tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide is very toxic and it can be lethal.
If you’ve ever wondered how safe your home is, you can get an expert opinion! Okotoks Fire Services has a Home Safety Inspection Program aimed at helping residents identify potential risks in their homes and promoting safer homes for residents.
The inspection is a free voluntary service for interested residents and will take approximately a half hour to complete. The inspection will cover the following:
- Fire Escape Planning
- Smoke Alarms
- Fuel Safety
- Fire Extinguishers
- Heating Safety
- General Family Safety
- Injury Prevention
If an inspector spots hazards that are easy to fix like a dead battery in a smoke detector, the inspector will help the resident fix the problem right away.
To learn more about what the inspection covers, download the Home Safety Inspection Checklist .
To book an inspection, call the Fire Hall at 403-938-4066, The approximate wait time for an inspection 1-3 business days.