VANCOUVER - In the past five years, B.C. saw nearly 100 fatalities from structure fires and now, in the midst of an annual fire prevention week, the province is reminding residents of how to stay safe.

This year's theme for the yearly awareness event focuses on the heroic efforts of ordinary people in keeping people safe from fires. It also encourages residents to plan and practise an escape route. 

"Preparing in advance of an emergency, like a fire, is one of the most critical components of staying safe," said T.M. Sandulak, manager, emergency management and business continuity programs, FortisBC in a news release. 

"Part of our commitment to safety means we make sure our customers are informed on what to do in an emergency situation, as well as providing training for first responders to help them stay safe when approaching situations involving natural gas or electricity."

Residents are also reminded to have working smoke alarms in their home. According to the province, in 43 per cent of fatal fires, there was no working smoke alarm. 

The province also says these are the top causes for house fires in B.C.: 

  • Cooking equipment
  • Unattended cooking
  • Matches and lighters
  • Heating equipment, including space heaters
  • Smoker's materials

And with Thanksgiving coming up, the province says the fall holiday is the leading day for fires involving cooking equipment. 

Between Oct. 6 and 12, awareness campaigns in B.C. will help children, adults and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. As well, a burn prevention poster and video content is open to elementary school students across the province. 

"It's critical that all British Columbians have an escape plan in the event a fire breaks out in their home," Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness in a news release. 

"Emergency preparedness starts at home. B.C.'s annual fire prevention Week is the perfect opportunity for everyone to draw a map of their home, identify two ways out of each room and practise their plan ahead of time. This is just one way people can improve their personal safety and prepare for the unexpected."