With very little rain forecast among a series of days predicted to be plus-30 degrees Celsius, it’s no surprise that experts are sounding the alarm about the high risk of fire. When it’s this dry out, everyone must play a role in keeping the chances of a blaze down. Whether at home or out in the wilderness, fire prevention should be top of mind.
Open flames in the city
The major cities of Calgary and Edmonton have yet to implement fire bans, but it’s not unusual for either to do so. Should a fire ban be called, it will affect the use of fire pits, chimeneas, barbecues and other forms of open-flame devices. The fine for violating a fire ban can go as high as $5,000.
- Check for fire bans in Calgary
- Check for fire bans in Edmonton
- Check for fire bans in Lethbridge
- Check for fire bans in Red Deer
If you choose to use your fire pit while there is no ban, ensure to have the surrounding area cleared of anything flammable, including dry grass and twigs. Fire pits must be placed at least two metres away from homes, garages, outdoors structures, fences, and property lines, and never near trees, shrubs, or anything woody. Spark guards or screens over the fire are mandatory in many jurisdictions.
Barbecuing is likely to become more and more popular for families over the coming weeks as we do anything possible to avoid starting up the oven. Keep in mind that barbecues can also give off sparks and flare up unexpectedly, so clear out the area around your grill carefully and be extra vigilant when flipping your burgers and searing your steaks. Do not operate your barbecue any longer than necessary.
Wildfire prevention tips
There are currently more than 40 wildfires active in Alberta, however that number is greatly eclipsed by our neighbours to the west. B.C. is reporting more than 160 fires with a massive increase over the last few days. Approximately 54% of Alberta’s fires have been caused by humans, and 33% have been caused by lightning so far this summer, while the rest remain under investigation.
Lightning, campfires, and discarded cigarettes that were not extinguished properly are all common causes of wildfires. Even the hot sun can cause enough of a spark to get a fire going.
If you are planning on going camping this month, or to visit some of Alberta’s amazing provincial parks, keep an eye out for fire advisories on the Alberta Parks website and at AlbertaFirebans.ca. Open fires are now prohibited in several provincial parks due to the extreme risk of fire, and fire restrictions have been imposed in several more areas. During a fire ban, portable propane fire pits contained within designated fire pits and gas or propane stoves and barbecues designed for cooking or heating are permitted, and under fire restrictions wood, briquette and propane/natural gas fires contained within designated fire pits are also allowed.
Fireworks are not legal in Alberta unless you are licensed and have a permit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Fireworks and exploding targets are extremely dangerous on a good day, and should not be considered now.
Cigarette smokers should be reminded about fire prevention and that now is the time to be extra cautious as well. Smokers are advised to use ashtrays specifically designed for outdoor smoking, for example, with lids that prevent ashes and embers from blowing around. Several inches of sand in a non-combustible container will also work. All cigarette refuse should be soaked with water and hiked out of wilderness areas to be disposed of properly in garbage containers once it has been checked, again, to ensure there is nothing still alight.
Always keep matches and lighters out of the hands of children.
Campfires should be kept small and under control, no matter how tempting the urge is to keep piling wood on. Campfire safety requires that all blazes be easily extinguishable if needed, so keep a large amount of water handy, or a shovel to dump dirt on the flames if necessary.
- Always use a designated fire pit if available. If a fire pit is not available, dig out an area of at least six inches deep and circle it with rocks.
- Clear away all loose sticks, debris, and low-hanging branches that could possibly catch a spark within a five-metre radius.
- Don’t have a fire on especially dry and windy days.
- Never use lighter fluid, gas, kerosene, or other flammable liquids to start or feed a fire.
- Never leave your campfire alone.
- Always keep children away from fires.
- When extinguishing your campfire, soak it with water, stir it, then soak it again. Repeat this process until you can no longer see smoke or steam and the ashes are cool to the touch.
Home protection against external fires
Should an outdoor fire occur near your home, it’s a good idea to go over your home evacuation plan in detail with your family. Make sure everyone knows their escape route and where to meet if you have to suddenly leave your residence.
Regular upkeep of your home also works as fire prevention and can help reduce the chances of extreme damage.
- Remove tinder such as dried branches, leaves and debris from your property and gutters.
- Keep combustibles well away from your home.
- Keep your lawn trimmed and your yard clear of debris.
- Do not pile wood near any structure.
- Do not use mulch near your foundation.
- Have a long lawn hose and a couple lawn sprinklers handy at all times to soak areas at risk.
- Make sure there are no branches or vegetation near power lines.
Keep your home inventory and your home insurance up to date
Aside from comprehensive home insurance, one of the very best ways to protect yourself is to always have an up-to-date home inventory. Building and maintaining a current inventory of your valuables and personal possessions is the best way to ensure your home insurance will protect you from the unexpected and will make the claims process go as smoothly as possible. Every insurance company recommends keeping a list of all valuable items you would want to claim if they were ever lost or damaged as the result of a covered peril. At minimum, this itemized list should include:
- The value of each item on the list
- A current photograph or video of the item that clearly shows its nature and condition
- Original purchase receipts, whenever possible
In addition to your home inventory and your home insurance, we at Lane’s are your allies in the insurance business. As a leading Alberta-based brokerage, we work for you, not the insurance companies, and are able to offer excellent coverage at great rates, top-notch claims support and friendly, accessible customer service. Call us at out Calgary, Banff, Edmonton, or greater Alberta offices to see how we can help you gain the ultimate peace of mind.