National Fire Prevention Week: How to Prevent Home Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), US fire departments respond to an estimated average of 358,300 fires per year. This represents three-quarters of all structural fires, and National Fire Prevention Week aims to prevent as many home fires as possible—all while saving lives.

What is National Fire Prevention Week?

National Fire Prevention week is October 8-14th. It began in 1925 by President Coolidge, which is a commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This fire burned from October 8 to October 10 and destroyed thousands of buildings while killing an estimated 300 people, with $200 million in damages. Approximately 100,000 people were left homeless in the aftermath. There is no conclusive evidence of what started this fire, but it’s one of the most devastating in American history.

It’s noted that the most devastating fire in US history is the Peshtigo Fire, which occurred on the same exact day as the Great Chicago Fire. While this fire was overshadowed by the Great Chicago Fire, it burned down 16 towns, killed 1,152 people, and scorched 1.2 million acres before it ended.

On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America—now known as the International Fire Marshals Association—became observed by keeping the public informed on the importance of fire prevention.

National Fire Prevention Week Themes Over the Last Two Decades

According to National Fire Protection Association, there is a theme for National Fire Prevention Week every year since 1927. The last two decades of themes include:

  • 1997 Know When to Go: React Fast to Fire
  • 1998 Fire Drills: The Great Escape!
  • 1999 Fire Drills: The Great Escape!
  • 2000 Fire Drills: The Great Escape!
  • 2001 Cover the Bases & Strike Out Fire
  • 2002 Team Up for Fire Safety
  • 2003 When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!
  • 2004 It’s Fire Prevention Week! Test Your Smoke Alarms
  • 2005 Use Candles With Care
  • 2006 Prevent Cooking Fires: Watch What You Heat
  • 2007 It’s Fire Prevention Week! Practice Your Escape Plan
  • 2008 It’s Fire Prevention Week! Prevent Home Fires
  • 2009 Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned
  • 2010 Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With
  • 2011 It’s Fire Prevention Week! Protect Your Family From Fire!
  • 2012 Have 2 Ways Out!
  • 2013 Prevent Kitchen Fires
  • 2014 Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month
  • 2015 Hear The Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!
  • 2016 Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years
  • 2017 Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!

This year, with the theme Plan 2 Ways Out, NFPA suggests that you draw a map of your home by using their provided grid. You should also practice your home fire drill twice per year, especially for kids. Kids fire safety is another critical element of National Fire Safety Week, and teaching kid that there are 2 ways out with clearly defined areas can help save lives.

What are the 5 Most Common Causes of Household Fires?

It’s estimated that 7 people die in house fires every day in the US. Household fires have an annual average of $6.7 billion in damage and accounts for 93% of all civilian structure fire deaths. Furthermore, 87% of all civilian structure fire injuries occur during household fires. While home fires are an unfortunate fact of life, it helps to know the common sources to help with fire prevention.

According to this chart from NFPA, cooking equipment is the leading cause of household fires. Heating equipment comes in second place, with electrical lighting equipment in third. Intention fires are fourth on the list, and smoking materials are last on the most-common list.

However, it’s noted that smoking may not be the leading cause of the fire, but it is the leading cause of civilian deaths.

Own a Rental Property? Keep Your Tenants Safe

If you are a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure that your rented buildings are up to code. It’s critical that:

  • Tenants have access to safety routes at all times
  • If you supply furniture to your tenants, be sure that it’s fire safe. If the furniture was purchased after 1988, it should meet fire safety requirements.
  • Provide fire alarms and fire extinguishers, have fire alarms serviced regularly
  • If there is a fuel-burning device on site, a carbon monoxide detector should be installed

Fire Safety for All Ages: Kids Fire Safety Tips

Regardless of the theme for this ever-important week, National Fire Safety week is intended for all ages.

Here are a few important tips from the US Fire Administration on keeping kids safe:

  • Make an easy escape plan, especially for young children who can’t get outside on their own. Tell your children if a fire happens at night, mom and dad will wake them up and take them to safety.
  • Find two distinct escape routes from every room. If one exit is blocked or too dangerous to use, this can help save lives.
  • Agree on a meeting area outside of your home. When everyone gets outside to safety, make sure everyone is accounted for in one spot.

Be sure to never allow children to play with matches or lighters.

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