Review home fire-safety tips as Fire Prevention Week nears

Published 8:24 am Monday, October 9, 2017

“Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” is the theme of National Fire Prevention Week, which begins Sunday, and is observed nationwide.

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire which began October 8, 1871, and did most of its damage October 9.
The horrific conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
During Fire Prevention Week attention is focused on promoting fire safety and prevention, however we should practice fire safety all year long. Many potential fire hazards go undetected because people simply do not take steps to fireproof their home.
Many bedroom fires are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, careless use of candles, smoking in bed, and children playing with matches and lighters.
Most potential hazards can be addressed with a little common sense. For example, be sure to keep flammable items like bedding, clothes and curtains at least three feet away from portable heaters or lit candles, and never smoke in bed. Also, items like appliances or electric blankets should not be operated if they have frayed power cords, and electrical outlets should never be overloaded.
In a fire seconds count. Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Experts say you may have as little as two minutes (or even less) to safely escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds.
Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out. According to the latest NFPA research, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, three out of five fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
In a fire situation, your typical way out of your home may be blocked by fire or smoke which is why it’s important to have two ways out.
This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign includes the following messages:
• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
• Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
• Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
• Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
• Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
• Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
• Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.
• Call the fire department from outside the home.
As cooler weather heads our way and heating systems are turned on, now is a good time to learn and heed the fire-safety tips listed above to keep your home and family safe this fall and winter.

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