On October 8, 1871, at 9pm, it’s said that Mother O’Leary’s cow kicked over her lantern, causing the Great Chicago Fire. To commemorate one of our nation’s deadliest fires, where 250 people died and 100,000 were left homeless, President Woodrow Wilson designated the 9th National Fire Prevention Day in 1920. Today, the week of October 9th is National Fire Prevention Week.
This National Fire Prevention Week runs from October 7- October 13, 2012. During this week, the U.S. flag is flown at half mast at federal buildings in honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. This year’s theme is “Have 2Ways Out!”
THE DANGERS OF FIRES
In 2012, the National Fire Protection Association estimates 2,600 people died in home structure fires. Approximately 62% of those occurred in homes lacking smoke detectors or whose alarms were not properly functioning. By installing a home sprinkler system, these deaths could be reduced by 83%.
Since 1990, cooking has been the leading cause of home fires, with approximately 410 deaths associated with cooking fires in 2010 alone. Other sources of fires include candles, which cause approximately 35 fires per day, and washer/ dryer machines. These common household items can cause deadly problems if left unchecked.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
To decrease your risk of fire and increase your chances of surviving a house fire, try the following:
· Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with fresh batteries on a yearly basis
· Install a functioning home sprinkler system
· Keep matches, lighters, and fire starting devices out of the reach of children
· Install child proof knobs on your stove
· Clean your washer/ dryer and lint trap regularly
· Do not leave open flames burning while you are out of the room
· Do not leave appliances plugged in which could spark and cause a fire
· Throw away items with old frayed wires and cords which could spark and cause a fire
· Keep space heaters away from combustible materials
· Clean your chimney regularly
· Practice an escape plan so your family knows where to go and what to do in case of a fire
· Practice stop, drop, and roll in case your clothes catch fire