The history of National Fire Prevention Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire, that occurred on October 9, 1871. The final tally was staggering: More than 250 people dead, 100,000 homeless, 17,400 structures destroyed, and $168 million in damage. The first Fire Prevention Week, born out of the desire to save lives and prevent tragedy, was created in 1925 by President Coolidge. During Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, 2011attention focuses on promoting fire safety and prevention.
most frequently identified with home fire deaths:
SMOKE ALARMS A working smoke alarm can alert you to danger and make the difference between life and death. Install and maintain a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Be sure to replace the battery every year. It is a simple way to keep you and your family better protected 24-7. Test your smoke alarms monthly. Most hardware, home supply or general merchandise stores sell smoke alarms and their batteries. Some local fire departments offer smoke alarms at little or no cost.
ESCAPE PLANS If a fire breaks out in your home, do you know how you will get out? Create an escape plan and make sure everyone in your home practices it. Plan two routes of escape from every room, and designate a meeting place outside of the home. Remember: get out and stay out. Draw a basic diagram of your home, marking all the windows and doors, and plan two routes out of each room. Download the Fire escape grid here. If you have older children, have them practice crawling, touching doors or going to the window, according to your escape plan.
CHILD FIRE SAFETY Children under age 5 are twice as likely as the rest of us to die in a home fire. Children depend on their parents and other caregivers to protect them. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach. Maintain a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Practice a fire escape plan. Pick a meeting spot outside of the home. Teach toddlers to tell you when they find a match or lighter. Remember that even child-resistant lighters are not childproof, and store them safely. Never use matches or lighters as amusement. Children may imitate you.
OLDER ADULT FIRE SAFETY (BOTH COOKING AND HEATING) Most fires in the home start in the kitchen. For older adults, fires that begin while they are cooking are the third leading cause of fire death. Remember not to leave cooking food unattended. Do not wear loose clothing when cooking. Keep towels and potholders away from the range. Never use the range of oven to heat your home. When buying a space heater, look for the auto-off feature should the heater fall over. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from other objects. Your fireplace should have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.
CARELESS SMOKING In the USFA Civilian Fire Fatalities in Residential Buildings Report, it notes that smoking was the leading cause of fatal residential building fires. Males accounted for 57 percent of civilian fire fatalities in residential buildings; women accounted for 43 percent of the fatalities. Approximately 43 percent of civilian fatalities in residential building fires are between the ages of 40 and 69. Thirteen percent of civilian fire fatalities in residential buildings were less than 10 years old. If you smoke, put your cigarette out completely when you are done with it. Careless smoking is the number one cause of preventable home fire deaths. Whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes, remember: do not leave them burning unattended, do not smoke in bed and always use deep ashtrays.
Now, take the Fire Safety Quiz and see how well you do.