Fire Prevention Week Oct. 7-13, 2012

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 8, 2012

Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13, is an opportunity to review your fire safety steps. This year’s theme is, “Have 2 Ways Out.” There is no time to waste thinking of an alternate route if your first path is blocked—every second counts!

Fire Prevention Week was established after the “Great Chicago Fire” in October 9, 1871 when more than 250 lives were lost and 100,000 were left homeless as a result. There was an old myth about a milk cow and the owner Mrs. O’Leary being responsible. There are several plausible theories as to the cause; children smoking, that a neighbor started it and lastly, that a meteorite was the cause. The meteorite story could hold more weight because another fire began the day before in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. This fire, the one most people never hear about, killed 1, 152 people, reduced to ashes 16 towns and burned over a million acres.

Both the Peshtigo and Chicago fires point out how vulnerable we were then and how important it is to review our safety plans with our families now. Winter is coming and we will be firing up our furnaces and fireplace soon but before that, we make sure everything is in proper working order. Don’t wait for a tragedy— get your safety plan set and review your fire prevention tips:

Prevention First Tips! A coached child has a better chance of surviving!

  • Have a working smoke alarm and change batteries annually. Test the units monthly. For family members with hearing issues use an alarm that uses lights and vibrations to alert them. Replace with new smoke alarms every ten years. Do carbon monoxide (CO2) detectors at the same time.
  • Have two plans in place to escape from an outbreak of fire in your home or apartment. Have someone appointed to assist a person that may be young or unable to get out on their own.
  • Designate a spot outdoors for all family members to meet. Having a designated place will prevent unnecessary trips into a burning building to look for people. Once outside call the fire department or dial 911.
  • Drill, drill, drill! Practicing fire drills will show you where your weak points are and whether your equipment will do its job. Drills should be held at least twice annually, preferably at night to test whether children will wake up for the alarm. Most fires occur December, January and February, the coldest months of the year.
  • Touch doors before opening; if it’s too hot to open, go to your next escape route.
  • Teach kids to, “Stop, drop and roll,” if their clothes catch fire.
  • Take your kids to your fire department for a tour so they can see what a firefighter looks like in their gear so they learn not to fear them, so they don’t “hide” from them during a fire.
  • Teach children to never play with matches, fire, candles, gasoline, or propane tanks used in welding.
  • Never leave a candle or cigarette unattended. Never place them near children or pets or leave them in a place where they can be knocked over.
  • Never disconnect smoke alarms to quiet an alarm.
  • Don’t let your children see you smoke in bed or disconnect the smoke alarm battery. Better yet— quit smoking.
  • Keep matches, lighters, and gasoline out of children’s reach or behind lock and key. Gasoline should never be brought inside your home.
  • Keep flammable materials at least 3 feet away from heat sources: fireplaces, furnaces or radiators.
  • Space heaters should be placed at least 3 feet from anything that could catch fire: furniture, curtains, papers, etc. Do not place space heaters in a high-traffic area to avoid tipping over. For electric heaters, make sure the outlet has enough capacity and doesn’t get warm. Never use an extension cord with a space heater.
  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected at least once a year.

These are only a few tips, please check out the websites below for more information:

Check out these websites for more information:

National Fire Protection Association

Safe Kids

My father was seriously burned over 75% of his body in an explosion and subsequent fire in a factory where he was called to make repairs on a boiler. Doctors and other experts attribute his survival to keeping calm and “keeping his head.” He used to tell us kids, “Don’t panic; panic kills.” Please check your equipment periodically and bring in an expert when needed. You may save a few dollars but those dollars won’t save your life in a fire. You can’t put a dollar value on a human life— that of a family member or emergency rescuers.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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