What is National Fire Safety Week?
Fire Prevention Week 2015 is October 4th to 10th. This is one week out of the year where the importance of fire safety is shared in the classrooms, via firefighters and with families. Fire Prevention Week was officially started as a memorial week to commemorate two major fires within just a few hours of each other. The Great Chicago Fire occurred on October 9, 1871 and left 100,000 people homeless, killed 250 people and destroyed more than 17,400 structures. The fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin killed over 1,150 people and burned more than 1.2 million acres. Those horrendous fires led to proclamations from the Fire Marshals Association of North America, (today called the International Fire Marshals Association), that the week in which October 9th falls will be designated as Fire Prevention Week to educate the public about fire prevention and safety. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation in 1920. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week had been observed on the Sunday through Saturday where October 9th falls. Fire Prevention Week is listed as the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
Fire Prevention and Safety
It is very important for children and families to be very diligent in learning and practicing fire prevention and safety on a daily basis. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2013, fire departments across the United States responded to nearly 370,000 home structure fires resulting in nearly 14,000 injuries, over 2,750 deaths and $7 billion in property damage. Roughly half of home fire deaths resulted from fires reported between 11pm and 7am, when people were usually asleep. Cooking is the leading cause of home fire, followed closely by heating equipment failures. Two of every five home fires started in the kitchen. Thankfully, over the last decade the amount of home fires and deaths has declined as more people are becoming more familiar with fire safety routines. Most importantly, having a working smoke alarm cuts the chance of dying in a reported fire by half!
Fire Prevention Plan
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides fire safety information and educational packets to teachers, families, and fire professionals as tools to educate the public during Fire Prevention Week. Since 1927, each fire safety week has had a theme. The theme for National Fire Prevention Week 2015 is: “Hear the Beep, Where You Sleep.” The theme emphasizes the need for placing working smoke alarms in every bedroom. In fact, NFPA recommends that smoke alarms are installed in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement. Larger homes need more smoke alarms.
During Fire Prevention Week at schools, children learn the importance of fire safety including the following:
- Instill the importance of having a smoke alarm installed on every floor of the home and outside each bedroom.
- Know what the sound of a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when it goes off.
- Create a family fire escape plan for their homes and practice it with the family monthly.
- Teach and practice “Stop, Drop and Roll” in case clothing catches on fire.
- Explain the importance of not playing with matches, a lighter or other fire sources.
It is imperative to practice fire safety all year round. Stop by your local fire station to get more fire prevention and safety information during Fire Prevention Week 2015.
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