Fire Prevention Week Has Begun

What do you suppose is the longest running public health observance in the United States?

If you looked at the headline above, you already know. It’s National Fire Prevention Week. This year it runs from October 7 to 13. It was originally chosen to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871.

That horrific fire resulted in the deaths of 250 people and left 100,000 homeless. It destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.

Observance of this week began nearly 100 years ago (1922). That’s when the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) began sponsoring it. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge declared Fire Prevention Week a national observance.

Look, Listen and Learn

During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to decrease casualties caused by fires.

The 2018 campaign is named “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

Look… for places fire could start. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.

Listen… for the sound of the smoke alarm. Have a place outside the home where the family can meet.

Learn… two ways out of every room. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are clutter-free.

Electrical Appliances Cause Fires

The type of fire most concerning to the average person is a house fire. Even after becoming aware of a house fire, people can be trapped by flames and smoke. Those fortunate enough to escape may still suffer smoke inhalation.

Forty-seven percent of home fires begin with the usage of appliances. Including stoves, toasters, microwave ovens, radiators and other heating systems. Open flames from candles and fireplaces cause 32 percent of these fires.

According to the NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to more than 350,000 home structure fires per year. These fires result in about 14,000 civilian injuries and 2,500 deaths, while causing about $7 billion in direct property damage.

Having an emergency response plan will increase the chances of survival for you and your family members. You should also keep a 72-hour survival kit and bug-out bag ready to grab. Important documents should be organized and easily accessible.

Preparation a Key

There’s more to a house fire than scorching flames. Although those are intimidating enough on their own. There’s also smoke, toxic gases, the lack of oxygen and a lack of light. House fires are usually preventable. But once they start, there’s often little time to react.

Before a House Fire

Following are a few things you can do now to prepare for a potential fire in your home:

  • Practice an evacuation plan with your family, both by sight and feel. It’s possible the smoke will be too thick for you to see your way around.
  • Make sure all doors, windows, screens and security bars can be easily opened by everyone in your home.
  • Install smoke alarms and change the batteries regularly. The most reliable types of alarms are dual-sensor smoke detectors. Use a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Have a couple of fire extinguishers handy in order to keep small fires from spreading.

Your Fire Evacuation Plan – What to do During a House Fire

You may find yourself in a house fire that’s beyond the scope of your fire extinguisher. The best thing to do is get yourself and other family members out of the residence. Here are four actions steps to take:

  • Move to the nearest exit quickly. You may have to get down low if there is smoke in the air.
  • If you need to open an interior door, do it slowly. The fire on the other side of the door could be worse than on your side.
  • As soon as you’re out of the house, call 911. Don’t try to do this until you’re sure you and other family members are safe.
  • Do not go back into a burning building. (I know this is the rule, but if a family member is still in the house, I’m going back in.)

After a House Fire

Below are four things to do following a house fire:

  • Even after a house fire has been extinguished, charred beams and other items can fall. Don’t go back in until you’ve been given the OK by the fire department.
  • Report the fire to your underwriter and the landlord or mortgage company
  • Assess the damage to your possessions and make a comprehensive list.
  • If you leave your residence for a day or longer to stay at a hotel or a friend’s residence, notify the police. Your house could become a target of thieves while you’re gone.

A house fire could cause an enormous amount of damage to your home. And hurt the health of you and your loved ones or maybe even take your lives. Let’s take Fire Prevention Week seriously by preparing to deal with a fire… before it happens.

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