First Prevention Week is a national observance that takes place during the second week of October and commemorates the Great Chicago Fire that began on October 8, 1871. The observance has taken place every year since 1925, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During this week, schools will be practicing fire drills and students will be learning how to prevent fires as well as lifesaving ways to safely escape a fire. The theme of the 2018 Fire Prevention Week is “Look, Listen, Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” Sparky the Fire Dog also has new friend, Simon, who will help him teach this year’s messages.
So how can you help prevent fires? First, look around your house for places a fire can start, like in the kitchen when you leave something cooking on the stove, a candle burning with no one around to watch it, or a smoking area where cigarettes or matches are discarded. Second, listen for the sound of a smoke alarm that can warn you about smoke from a fire. Make sure all your smoke alarms have fresh batteries and now is a great time to replace them. And finally, learn the fastest way out of your house to escape a fire. You may need to learn two ways out in case the first route is blocked by flames.
While many fires start in the kitchen, fires that start from cigarettes and smoking cause the most fire related fatalities. Most of these fires take place at night, when families are sleeping, and are started in furniture, bedding, and mattresses from discarded cigarettes or matches or from the smoker falling asleep. Fires from smoking can be avoided by taking precautions, such as only smoking outside and properly disposing of smoking materials using wet sand or water in a bucket. Many people are switching to electronic cigarettes because they consider them safer than conventional cigarettes, but lithium ion batteries used to power some devices have exploded, causing serious harm to users. Never leave your device charging unattended. Of course, never starting to smoke or vape is the best way to avoid fires and personal harm.
Look, listen and learn about fire dangers around your home to protect your family.