Fire Prevention Week 2014 is October 5th to 11th. This is one week out of the year where the importance of fire safety is shared by people and organizations who desire to spread the word about this critical topic. Fire Prevention Week was officially started as a memorial week to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire on October 9, 1871, which left 100,000 people homeless, killed 250 people and destroyed more than 17,400 structures in the city as well as an even bigger fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin that killed over 1,150 people and burned more than 1.2 million acres. These 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. Fire Prevention Week is listed as the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2011, fire departments across the United States responded to over 370,000 home structure fires resulting in nearly 14,000 injuries, over 2,500 deaths, and nearly $7 million in property damage. The risk of dying in a home fire was cut in half if there were working smoke alarms in the home. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, followed closely by heating equipment failures. 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. However, it is still very important for children and families to be very diligent in learning and practicing fire safety.
The NFPA provides fire safety information and educational packets to teachers, families, and fire professionals to use to as tools to educate the public during Fire Prevention Week. There is information and educational events throughout the week for fire professionals, teachers, and families. The NFPA created “Sparky, the Fire Dog” in order to teach younger children about fire safety.
During Fire Prevention Week at schools, children learn the importance of fire safety including:
- Having a smoke alarm installed on every floor of the home and outside each bedroom.
- Knowing what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do when it goes off.
- Creating a family fire escape plan for their homes and practicing it with the family monthly.
- Learning “Stop, Drop and Roll” in case clothing catches on fire.
- Knowing why not to play 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 safety information during Fire Prevention Week. Being safe and conscious of the environment around you will always be the key to fire safety. AKE Safety Equipment wants to help educate the importance of fire safety for the entire family.