Fire Prevention Week: October 4-10, 2015

By Kiera Ford, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

In addition to kicking off the holiday décor season, the beginning of October also represents Fire Prevention week.

October 4th-10th, 2015 is National Fire Prevention Week and the DFW area Red Cross has a plethora of programs and resources to ensure that you are taking the necessary precautions to warrant the safety of your home and family.

Fire Prevention week was established to commemorate the infamous Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This fire, beginning on October 8th ravaged the city through the night and well into the next day. It left over 250 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless. Since this great tragedy, many different initiatives have taken place to promote awareness and safety when it comes to fire. However, in 1922, thanks to President Woodrow Wilson, Fire Prevention week was created and has since been maintained as a way to spread knowledge about fire and prevention.

smoke alarmFACT: Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

The Red Cross has partnered with local fire departments and community organizations to install smoke detectors in the homes of those in high-risk neighborhoods. As part of our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign volunteers and staff members will be canvassing local communities to install and test smoke detectors in homes. For more information on this campaign or how you can volunteer please visit https://www.homefirepreparedness.org/cms/ .

FACT: When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.

To prevent death or excess damage to your home be sure to check your smoke detectors at least once month. Smoke detectors should be installed in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on every floor in your home. Keep in mind the slogan for this year’s campaign, “Hear the BEEP where you beepsleepSLEEP”.

FACT: From 2006-2010, NFPA estimated that decorations were the item first ignited in an average of 900 reported home structure fires per year.

As holiday decoration mania is afoot, it is important to maintain safety awareness when lavishing your home with lights and other décor. Here are some tips to keep your home safe this holiday season!

Light Safety:

FACT: About 48% of electrical fires in the home involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment.

When decorating your home (inside and outside) with lights it is important to keep the following precautions in mind:

  1. Only use lights that have been tested for safety. You can find the safety verification on the label attached to the lights or on the packaging.
  2. Be sure to check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, loose connections or bare wires, especially on old sets of lights. Throw away any broken sets of lights! (Unless you have experience in fixing electrical wiring.)
  3. Use no more then 3 sets of standard lights per extension cord. Any more could result in a fire hazard!
  4. Remember to turn off all lights (inside and outside) before going to bed or leaving the house. Extended use could cause overheating or shortage, which could lead to a fire.

Candle Safety:

FACT: On average, there are 29 home candle fires reported per day.

Although candles can be a much more cost-effective way to decorate your home, they also come with many fire hazards. Keep these tips in mind to prevent fire:

  1. Never use lighted candles to decorate a tree or any other evergreen.
  2. Be sure to always use non-flammable candle holders.
  3. Keep candles away from others decorations and paper products.
  4. Place candles in a secure location where they cannot be knocked over.
  5. Keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  6. Always blow out candles before leaving the house or going to bed.

Although taking these safety precautions will help to reduce the chances of house fire when decorating, again, it is important to ensure that your home has functioning smoke alarms for the necessary protection.

FACT: Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, more than half never practiced it.

Having an evacuation plan, should you experience a house fire, helps to limit death and injury. Remember to ensure that every family member knows the proper procedure when evacuating the home and that there is a designated meeting spot in a nearby, safe location. And remember, practice makes perfect!

For a printable template of a Home Fire Escape Plan click here: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m38640160_Home_Fire_Escape_Plan.pdf

Home fires are the most common emergency in the United States. Please remember to take the necessary steps to prevent fire and protect yourself and your family.

For more information on Fire Prevention Week, please visit: http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week

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