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NEWS | Oct. 4, 2011

Fire Prevention Week begins Sunday.

By Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Shockley 628th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention office

National Fire Prevention Week 2011 is October 9 through 15 and the theme this year is "Protect your family from fire."

Fire Prevention Week was established in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge when he became aware that close to 15,000 people had been lost to fire the previous year. Fire Prevention Week is always observed from the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls, to honor the anniversary of the Great Chicago fire. It is intended to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.

American homes suffer an unwanted fire every 10 seconds and every 60 seconds they suffer a fire serious enough to call the fire department. Every three hours someone is killed in a home fire - that's more than 2,600 people every year. Another 13,000 people are injured in home fires in a typical year.

Follow these three simple steps to a safer home.

1. Fire extinguishers can create a pathway to safety.
Keep an extinguisher in every part of your home where fire might occur - especially in the kitchen, living room and laundry room. Read the instructions and know how to use your extinguishers before a fire breaks out. The only time a fire extinguisher should be used to fight a fire is when the fire is small, self-contained, not spreading rapidly, the fire department has been notified, there is a clear exit behind the person using the extinguisher and the extinguisher is used to create a safe pathway out of the home.

Respect all fires, regardless of size. Fire extinguishers are one part of a fire response plan. The main objective is safe escape. Inspect your fire extinguisher gauge monthly and replace your extinguisher if the gauge reads empty. Replace any fire extinguisher more than 12 years old regardless of the gauge reading.

2. Smoke alarms provide vital early warning of fire danger.
Install a smoke alarm in every room including basements and finished attics, in each bedroom and hallways outside of every sleeping area and at the top and bottom of stairways. Make sure everyone knows what the smoke alarm sounds like. Test your smoke alarms frequently and change the batteries as needed. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.

3. Prepare and practice a home escape plan.
Practice two ways out of every room to mimic the most difficult fire situation you might encounter. Be sure to practice your escape plan during the day and at night.

Assign an adult to wake and assist each child in the house. Also consider lending extra help to family members who are physically challenged or elderly. Identify a meeting place outside the home. Practice, practice, practice - at least twice every year.

If you have any questions regarding "Protecting Your Family from Fire," or any other questions and concerns, call 963-3121/4284.