National Fire Prevention Week 2014 – Smoke Alarms
October 5-11, 2014, is National Fire Prevention Week; and this year’s life-saving theme is smoke alarms. For anyone with a fireplace or wood stove, fire prevention should be a priority. Keeping smoke alarms with operational batteries in recommended places throughout the house is perhaps the most crucial step in safety that a family can take because these life-saving devices let you know when there is a fire. If a fire occurs when members of the household are sleeping, rather than being overcome by smoke or treacherous flames, smoke alarms give you the warning needed to get outside to safety.
What is National Fire Prevention Week?
Since 1922, National Fire Prevention Week has been spreading the word about fire prevention and helping families devise plans for protecting themselves in the event of a fire. The goal every year is to provide important information about leading causes of fires in the home as well as ways to stay safe. The educational focus of the annual campaign is adopted by schools and communities, to help get the word out more effectively.
How did the Annual Event Get Started?
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed thousands of people and destroyed acres of land by the millions occurred from October 8 to October 10. There’s a famous myth that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow started the devastating blaze by knocking over a kerosene lamp. Drought conditions were severe at the time and other natural disasters combined to create the circumstances resulting in the disastrous out-of-control fire that destroyed four square miles of Chicago. This tragic incident is one of the major reasons National Fire Prevention Week exists.
Important Statistics on Heating and Home Fires
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has provided the following important statistics on heating and home fires:
- Peak months for fires involving heating equipment and for fatalities caused by heating equipment fires are December, January and February. In general, home fires and home fire fatalities occur most often in the cooler months.
- The second leading cause of all home fires reported and of all home fire deaths is heating equipment.
- The number one factor which contributed to heating equipment fires was failure to properly clean and maintain the equipment, primarily chimneys, and principally the need to clean creosote caused by solid fuel fires.
- About 50% of deaths caused by home heating fires were caused by heating equipment that was positioned too near combustible materials such as clothing, mattresses, bedding, or furniture.
- Between 2005 and 2009, there was an average of 64,100 heating-related home fires, resulting in an average of 1,620 injuries, 560 fatalities, and $904 million in direct property damage.
- In 2009, one home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds.
- Every day, on average, seven people died in home fires in 2009. Those with the highest risk of death in a home fire are adults 65 years old and older.
Smoke Alarms and Chimney Cleanings, Too
In Atlanta and many cities across the U.S., the emphasis on safety includes children, Sparky the Fire Dog, and activities to help teach kids about fire safety. A smoke alarm will alert you if there is a fire in your home, but no one can argue against also taking key steps to prevent fires from starting in the first place. The NFPA recommends having your chimney inspected annually; and, as needed, get the flammable creosote cleaned from your flue lining, to prevent hazardous chimney fires.
Teach your kids the importance of smoke alarms & what they should do when they here the alarm with this fun Sparky music video:
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