Don’t let unheeded dangers ruin your holiday season

With the festive season set to start, including a school break for our children, I’d like to remind fellow parents that construction sites are not playgrounds. Snow might make a site look like a sparkling winter wonderland, but don’t be fooled, the dangers there are all too real.

Workers on construction sites are trained to recognize dangers in accordance with stringent rules set by the province. They also wear protective gear such as hard hats, steel-lined work boots, vests, harnesses, safety goggles and ear plugs.

Provincial legislation also provides that if you are not 16 years of age or older and wearing the appropriate gear, then you are considered a trespasser breaking the law if you enter a construction site.

The legislation is also explicit that builders and renovators post signs such as “No Trespassing! Danger – Keep Out!”

We all go to great lengths to dissuade entry by unauthorized people including fencing and taping off areas. Even new home buyers who want to view the construction of their own home require supervision by the builder and must be properly attired when they are on site.

Sadly though, tragic mishaps do occur, forever impacting the lives of the young person, their family and friends and members of the construction industry.

Whether you are visiting sites as you consider a new home purchase, you live in a new development that is still under construction, or are visiting with family or friends who live nearby a construction site, there is a good chance your child will come in contact with a construction site.

Please take the time to warn your children. Explain the dangers such as nails, rough materials and potential falls that could result in broken bones but could also be life-threatening. Perhaps explaining the safety gear required for workers and that it is against the law to enter a site might resonate with them.

Lastly, make sure you know where your children are going, and when they will be back and encourage them to take advantage of all the beautiful parks and playgrounds in London.

I also want to encourage everyone to pay special attention to their smoke detectors. Our London Home Builders’ Association renovators work with the London fire services to blitz London neighbourhoods, testing smoke detectors and replacing batteries or the detector where necessary.

It is surprising and disheartening to learn how many homes have expired smoke detectors or no detectors at all.

Results for our second blitz weren’t as bleak as they were for the first neighbourhood, but it was still well worth the time and effort for the renovators and firefighters.

Of the 256 homes canvassed, 124 homes were not available to be checked as no one was home. Surprisingly, entry was refused at an additional 16 homes.

That left 116 homes of which 3.5 per cent had no smoke alarm, 15.5 per cent of the smoke alarms that were not working and an amazing 19 per cent had an insufficient number of smoke alarms for the size and layout of the home.

The renovators and firefighters were happy to be able to supply 17 homes with new batteries and replace and install an additional 30 smoke alarms.

When you realize that all these numbers mean that in one small neighbourhood in London, that at least one in five homes were without adequate protection, it is unsettling to think of how many lives might be at risk across our city.

With the holidays fast approaching, why not take this as your opportunity to start a new family tradition: checking the expiry date and the batteries in your smoke detector. When you’re thinking stocking stuffers, don’t forget batteries.

Have a happy holiday season by putting an emphasis on staying safe.

Sue Wastell is the president of the London Home Builders' Association and Owner of Wastell Homes in London.     

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