It’s National Fire Prevention Week and this year is all about protecting your family from fire. Fires can pop up in many places like forests, cars or the workplace, but residential fires account for more than 75 percent of fire fatalities.
I personally have family and friends who have lost homes to fires and while they were lucky enough to escape with their lives, many don’t. Last year in the United States, a house fire claimed a life every 169 minutes.
FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy says “Annual observances like National Fire Prevention Week are excellent opportunities to focus on fire hazards — but we should all practice fire safety every day — at work, at play, and particularly at home.”
National Fire Prevention Week was started by the Fire Marshals Association of North America to raise fire safety awareness in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The first National Fire Prevention Week was proclaimed in 1920 by President Woodrow Wilson, and has since been observed during the week of October 9th.
In this year’s Presidential Proclamation, President Obama encourages everyone to “take significant steps to mitigate the risk of fire, from installing and maintaining smoke alarms on every level of their home to practicing safe cooking behaviors.”
So what steps can you take to protecting your family from fire?
Working smoke alarms in your home can cut the risk of fatality in half. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, tested once a month and the batteries replaced once a year.
See this smoke alarm recall in our Marketplace.
Make an Escape Plan
In the event of a fire, a family escape plan can help your family get to safety as quickly as possible. National Fire Prevention Association President James M. Shannon recommends a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of every room and a family meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and account for an average of 150 deaths each year. Never leave cooking equipment unattended while in use and keep flammable items away from heat sources like the stove and oven.
Maintain Heating Equipment
As we move into the fall and winter months, fires and related injuries from heating equipment increase dramatically. Have your heating equipment, fireplaces and chimneys inspected and cleaned every year.