Muskoka Lakes Fire Department Hosts Family Safety Night On April 28

Muskoka Lakes Family Safety Night
Graphic courtesy of the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department is coming together with a variety of other public safety organizations for a family safety night to educate locals while also offering an evening of fun and prizes.

The first annual family safety night in Muskoka Lakes will be held at the Port Carling arena from 4 to 7 p.m. on April 28. Muskoka Paramedic Services, the Muskoka Ambulance Communication Service, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF), and a handful of other organizations will join the fire department at the event. Since each of the agencies has important messages to communicate to the public, the safety night will give them a chance to ensure their tips and resources are presented to residents at least once a year.

“It’s often hard to get the general public to engage with us, so the idea behind this is that each public safety agency that’s invited has an opportunity to interact with the public in a family-type environment,” said Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Ryan Murrell. “The public in general and kids can sit with emergency responders, see our vehicles and interact with us in a safe environment so that when they see us actually at an emergency, they know to stay away.”

The department plans to continue holding the event early in the year to make sure the NDMNRF can attend since the ministry gets busier with wildfires as the season progresses. The timing also aligns with the onset of warmer weather and the return of fire season, boating and more, making the event a good reminder for how to keep summer activities safe.

When attendees first arrive at safety night, they’ll be asked to create a family escape plan that includes two ways out of every room in their home. Once completed, they can show their plan to the event coordinators and receive a ballot for a chance to win a prize.

“Inside the arena itself, there will be booths set up to kind of expand on each one of our safety messages,” Murrell said. “We’ll have an area for kids to crawl low under smoke. We’ll talk about different types of smoke alarms and about the fact that we give away free smoke alarms in our area.”

The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department picks up their door prize of two bicycles and helmets for family safety night on April 28. Photo courtesy of the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department via Facebook
The Muskoka Lakes Fire Department picks up their door prize of two bicycles and helmets for family safety night on April 28. Photo courtesy of the Muskoka Lakes Fire Department via Facebook

The event will also feature the OPP, Muskoka Victim Services, Action First Aid, Safe and Quiet Lakes, and Crime Stoppers. The OPP will be bringing a cruiser and a four-wheeler, and Provincial Constable Dan DenHartogh will be attending the event to talk about safe boating and the use of ATVs. 

“[You can] see what your emergency services bring to the table,” DenHartogh said, adding that it’s a good chance to get educated on everything from fire prevention to medics working during COVID. “If you have any questions regarding off-road vehicles through the OPP, or any question to a uniformed member, then that would be the place to do it.”

Community engagement and incident prevention are important parts of the OPP’s work, he said, so he’s looking forward to the event and hopes that it will be well attended. Murrell said the fire department will showcase their equipment as well with a pumper truck on display for the public. Their mascot Sparky is also expected to make an appearance.

Events like safety night typically garner a lot of interest among children, Murrell said, so kids often bring important safety messages into the home, which helps educate families on how their tax dollars are being used. The fire department will be focusing on their free smoke and carbon monoxide alarm program while also reminding homeowners to get their chimneys cleaned.

The department only has four full-time employees and relies on volunteer firefighters to operate, so safety night is a great recruitment opportunity as well, Murrell said. He hopes showcasing the work they do more will inspire more people to get involved and inspire other municipalities to host similar safety night events.

“I’m hopeful that everybody walks away with a little bit more knowledge, a whole bunch of knick knacks, and things for the fridge and for the home,” Murrell said. “There’s prizes, we’ll have t-shirts and stuff to give away, and really we just want to have the opportunity for the public to interact with their public safety professionals and get answers. Even if they just get to meet us, then they’ll know where to go if they ever have a question.”


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