During November, the Canada Safety Council (CSC) is running two nationwide campaigns targeted at fire safety and seniors in our communities. These campaigns are aimed at raising awareness and providing the public with the necessary steps to prevent harm or dangerous situations from occurring.

Below is a brief overview of each campaign and some of the safety steps you can take to help protect your loved ones. For more information about each campaign, please visit the Council’s website.

National Senior Safety Week – Drug Safety for Seniors

This campaign runs November 6–12, 2012, and is intended to raise awareness about the harm taking multiple medications can cause in seniors. According to the CSC’s website, nearly two-thirds of Canadians ages 65 and older take up to five or more types of prescription medication every year. One in five seniors takes 10 or more types of prescribed drugs annually, and 5.5 percent, or one in 20 seniors, takes 15 or more types of medications to manage a wide range of health conditions. These numbers don’t even take into consideration any vitamins, herbal remedies and over-the-counter medications.

There is a risk associated with taking so many types of medications. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to lower this risk, including the following:

  • Keep a complete and current list of all medications being used, both prescription and non-prescription alike.
  • Use one pharmacy to fill all prescriptions to avoid any mix-ups and to keep track of when prescriptions are filled.
  • Before starting a new medication, speak with your pharmacist to ensure it will not adversely interact with your current medications.
  • Do not share your medication or take another person’s medication.

National Home Fire Safety Week

The holidays are among the most dangerous times of the year for house fires. According to an article on, the number of house fires increases significantly during December and candles are among the leading causes of house fires, behind cooking equipment, heating equipment, electrical distribution equipment and smoking.

During the week of November 24–30, 2012, the Canada Safety Council will provide insights and advice on holiday fire safety issues, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, how to plan fire escapes for your home and other fire safety advice.

Here are a few quick fire safety tips for you and your family to consider this holiday season:

  • Never leave cooking unattended. If you are distracted or need to tend to something else, turn off the heat before leaving the kitchen.
  • If purchasing a live Christmas tree, ensure it is fresh by pulling on the needles. If they are brown or come off easily, it is likely dry and can be a fire hazard.
  • Unplug Christmas tree lights whenever you leave home or before you go to bed.
  • Decorate your home with non-combustible, flame-retardant or fire-resistant materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and trees.
  • Don’t block fire exits with any holiday decor.
  • Never overload extension cords.

For more holiday fire safety tips for your home, click here.

Don’t Forget About Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

In keeping with the safety week theme, it is important to note that this is also a good time of year to inspect and test your carbon monoxide detector to make sure it is working properly.

Fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves and water heaters are sources of carbon monoxide (CO), which is an odourless, colourless gas that is a byproduct of fuel combustion. It is toxic and exposure to it can bring on symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness. In cases of prolonged exposure, this gas can even be deadly. A CO detector can help alert you of this danger.

There are a number of carbon monoxide detectors on the market today, and choosing which ones to buy for your home can be difficult. The most common household carbon monoxide detectors run on batteries, but you can also purchase ones that can be plugged into an outlet. Not only are these types of CO detectors widely available, but basic models are also rather inexpensive. However, you can also purchase detectors with digital display screens that tell you the concentration of carbon monoxide in the air.

You should never place a CO detector less than 15 feet away from appliances that burn any type of fuel. This includes gas heaters, ovens and water heaters. Because these types of appliances give off small amounts of CO when they fire up, placing a CO detector too close can cause false alarms. Ideally, you should have CO detectors on each floor of your home and one CO detector in each bedroom.

For more information on how you can keep your family safe from carbon monoxide, visit Health Canada’s website by clicking here.


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