Okotoks Fire & Rescue 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, Okotoks.ca website, and local media. We also visit schools throughout the year and you can find us out at local community events.
Water and Ice Safety Tips
Okotoks Fire & Rescue 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. Please use the Town maintained outdoor skating rinks and toboggan hills.
What is a storm pond?
Regulating the use of Open Spaces and Recreation Facilities
According to the Open Space and Recreation Facilities Bylaw:
- 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.
Don’t use the Sheep River for recreational use! Did you know that ice could crumble with the weight of a child when the temperatures hover around freezing? River ice has an extra danger of sweeping someone away under the ice. Stay safe this winter and use the Town maintained outdoor skating rinks and toboggan hills.
While enjoying a sunny afternoon dip in the Sheep River sounds ideal the Town does not recommend activities on or in the river due to cold water, fluctuating water level and the potential of debris.
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
Consider downloading the location-sharing what3words app to share your precise location in an emergency situation by using a what3words address. The three-word address helps OFD locate callers more easily and allows for a quicker response. More info in the section below.
The Okotoks Fire Department want to remind you to Keep yourself and your pets off of the Sheep River. As the weather warms up, bodies of water become even more dangerous, even if the ice looks solid. 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, which melt faster than the rest of the ice.
If someone has fallen through the ice:
- Call 9-1-1 and yell for help.
- If you are also on the weak ice, slowly lie down to distribute your weight and crawl or roll away from the broken or cracked area.
- Call out to the person who has fallen in and tell them to grab as far up onto the edge of the ice as they can and start kicking their feet as if they are swimming. The kicking motion will help keep the person afloat or swim right up onto the ice.
- Extend your reach with a tree branch, hockey stick, ladder, belt, scarf, jacket or anything safely from the shore. Tell them to start kicking to help them propel out of the water while you pull them out.
- 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.
Our public education programs are currently under review. We expect to start up again for the 2022 school year. In the meantime, we encourage teachers and students to enjoy videos geared to kids on the Town’s YouTube channel in the resources tab below.
- Firefighter Travis gives a fire truck tour:
- Story Time with OFD: Firefighter Adam reads a book on a superpower that all firefighters have – kindness – a very timely message during these challenging times
- Story Time with OFD: Firefighter Josh reads the bedtime story, Good Night Fire Engines
Or some activities on Sparky’s website.
Relaying your exact location in an emergency, especially when you are outdoors or in remote areas, can be difficult. The Okotoks Fire Department (OFD) now supports the location-finding app what3words to help locate callers in emergency situations, allowing for a quicker response.
The app has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares, each with a unique three-word address. This three-word address saves valuable time in an emergency situation by allowing callers to accurately share their precise location with dispatch. This makes it easier for emergency responders to deploy resources and find those in need of help in remote places or areas with no address.
Download what3words on the free app for Android or iOS, or access the online map. The app functions offline, can be used in remote areas and is internationally recognized. It is used by several Canadian emergency services to locate callers in emergencies, including the RCMP in some areas. Download what3words to help the OFD #KnowExactlyWhere you are in an emergency.
Find out how to use what3words here. By sharing the three words that make up your what3words address, OFD can find you faster and get exactly where they need to be.
Home Fire Safety Tips
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.
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.
Follow these tips to help prevent carbon monoxide from accumulating:
- Keep chimneys, vents, exhaust ducts, flues and secondary air openings free from dirt, snow and other blockages.
- Limit your use of exhaust fans. They can remove too much air if they're used too long and fuel-burning appliances need a good supply of air.
- Unless proper combustion air ducts have been installed, open a convenient or nearby fresh air supply, like a window, when you use a wood or coal fireplace or stove.
- Keep your furnace and water heater in a clear and open area and install proper combustion air ducts.
- Keep the door to the fan compartment on your furnace closed and secure at all times.
- Don't run vehicles inside an attached garage, even with the door open.|
Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:
- a headachy feeling
- tightness across your forehead and in your temples
- watering and burning of the eyes
- weariness, weakness, dizziness and vomiting
- loss of muscle control
Make the right call!
If you experience any of these symptoms, go outside into the fresh air. Call 911, or your nearest ATCO Gas office from a neighbour's house.
If you suspect a carbon monoxide problem but no one is ill, evaluate the situation. Go outside into the fresh air. Then return to your home, open the doors and windows to allow fresh air in and call ATCO Gas or another qualified technician to inspect your appliances and check your home for other possible sources of carbon monoxide.
It is back to school season and a time when there is often a gap between when working parents come home and children arrive home from school.
The Okotoks Fire Department wants to remind you that when kids are planning to stay home alone, it is important to think about safety and injury prevention.
Consider the possible dangers and talk about how they should be handled.
Having an emergency contact list and supplies such as a first aid kit will increase the family's confidence in handling emergencies.
Fire Safety for kids staying home alone
Everyone in the family needs to know what to do to stay safe from a fire in your home.
- Matches and lighters are NEVER toys – they are tools for adults only and need to be put away out of sight and reach of young children.
- Candles can easily tip and cause a home fire -- battery operated, flameless candles are a safer choice for home use.
- You need smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors that are working on every level of your home. Make sure that your kids know that when the alarm goes off they need to leave the house.
- Practice your fire drill at home with your family. Plan your escape route by knowing two safe ways out of every room and make sure you all know where your family meeting place is.
- Smoke from a home fire is poisonous and you need to get outside quickly where the air is clean and fresh.
- Make sure they know that they should call "911" once they are safely outside or at a neighbour's home. They will need to know their address
- Get out and stay out -- once you are outside, don't go back inside until the Firefighters tell you it is safe.
Follow these tips to protect yourself when making safe and healthy snacks.
- Keep a supply of foods that your kids can easily prepare.
- Don’t pry toast from a plugged-in toaster. Pull the plug first.
- Only use the stove, oven or microwave if you have been taught how.
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking.
- If cooking on the stove, keep a pan lid close by. If a pan catches fire, slide the lid over the pan to put out the fire and turn off the burner.
- Keep anything that can burn away from the stove.
- If younger children are in the home, keep them at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from the stove, oven or microwave
- If you use a microwave oven, make sure it is at a safe height, and within easy reach of all users.
- Only use microwave safe containers, lids and wraps in a microwave.
- Do not use aluminum foil or any metal containers.
- When opening a microwave heated container, make sure it is opened slowly away from the face, to prevent burns caused by hot steam or hot food.
- If your clothes catch fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL.
- STOP – because flames get bigger when you run.
- DROP to the ground, tuck in your elbows and cover your face with your hands.
- ROLL back and forth, over and over to smother the flames.
Currently home inspections during COVID-19 will be for vulnerable citizens only. To book an appointment please call Fire Services at the contact number below.
Holiday Safety Tips
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. For peace of mind - book a free Home Fire Safety Inspection by calling Fire Services at the contact number below.
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.
- Make sure you have them and that they’re working. For peace of mind - book a free Home Fire Safety Inspection by calling Fire Services at the contact number below.
Halloween is the time of year when all the little ghosts and ghouls get to dress up. They wander through Okotoks' neighbourhoods, knocking on doors and collecting treats. It can be very fun, as long as it’s a safe experience. We have put together safety information to help you and your little trick or treaters stay safe on Halloween. Both fire stations are open, between emergency calls, as safe places for anyone needing help.
Homes and decorations
To help prevent fires and injuries, follow these tips:
- Ensure your front entrance is well-lit to welcome trick-or-treaters.
- Keep front lawns and pathways clear of obstacles.
- Keep pets contained and away from the front entrance.
- Avoid using real candles, especially where people walk by, and consider using battery-operated candles or glow sticks.
It’s important to pick your costume carefully so that you are safe while trick-or-treating.
- Avoid costumes made of flammable materials and long trailing fabrics.
- Chose properly fitting costumes and footwear.
- Weapons or Accessories shouldn't look too real and should be made of flexible material that cannot cause harm.
- Ensure your mask doesn't limit your vision or try using face paint instead of a mask.
- Dress for the weather. The temperature in Calgary drops quickly, so dress warm.
Okotoks gets dark quickly in the evening and as the sun goes down it gets harder for drivers to see trick-or-treaters. Follow these tips to stay visible:
- Try to trick-or-treat while it’s light out.
- Attach reflective tape or glow sticks.
- Wear bright and visible costumes.
- Carry a flashlight or glow stick.
- Travel in groups.
- Trick-or-treating should be fun and safe for everyone. Remember these tips to have a safe night out:
- Young children should always be accompanied by an adult.
- Discuss and plan a route and where to meet after.
- Stay on sidewalks, cross at intersections, and look both ways before crossing.
- Do not enter the home of a stranger.
- Do not approach homes that are unlit or undecorated.
- Carry a cell phone in case of emergencies, but don’t let it distract you!
- Ensure all candy is inspected and tested by an adult.