Fire-related deaths continue to trend upward year after year. In fact, my home state of Alabama led the nation in fire-related deaths during 2017, and it’s trending again that way for this year. A category where no one wants to be #1!
October is designated as National Fire Prevention Month. As a retired career Firefighter / Paramedic (hard to believe that’s been 14 years ago!) Fire Prevention Month brings back a lot of good memories of public education and many hours spent in the local school systems with thousands of kids. But there are also the tragic memories of the multiple fire-related deaths that I have personally handled. Somehow we are failing in our long-time public education efforts.
Back in 1922, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) named the second week of October Fire Prevention Week in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Today, we celebrate Fire Prevention Week and Month by attempting to raise fire safety awareness and educating families, students and communities across the United States. The NFPA campaign for Fire Prevention Month 2019 is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.”
Simple, but life-saving! Take the time to ensure your home has an adequate number of functioning smoke alarms. At minimum one for each level of the home, one in each sleeping area, and one near the kitchen. Plan a fire exit for your home. Would you and your loved ones know how to react if awakened by the smoke alarm? Practice your escape plan with your kids. When our girls were young – they loved the fire exit drills at home. It was fun. Do you also have a functional fire extinguisher? And know how / when to use it? These are just a few considerations – should you have any questions regarding a home fire exit plan contact your local fire department. Also here is NFPA’a site on how to make a home fire escape plan.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough, as less than 9% of last year’s house fires were intentionally set… almost all others were by some carelessness: cooking, electrical, smoking, open flame heating, etc. Trust me – it can happen to anyone. Plan, practice your plan, have multiple functional smoke alarms… Stay safe!
Frank Wampol, BL Harbert Safety Director