October has long been fire prevention month to me. The reason I like to use October to raise the awareness of fire prevention primarily in the home. If awareness is raised at the same time each year people learn the habit of preventing fires. I emphasize fire prevention because fires kill people. The Federal Emergency Management Association reports that 1592 civilian home fire fatalities reported by U.S. news media between January 1, 2017, and October 10, 2017 (Home, 2017). The actual cause of these fires can be found by entering information at https://apps.usfa.fema.gov/civilian-fatalities/incident/reportMap. I also like to use the local Fire Department to help provide information for the employees of the organization I am working for. Furthermore, I use the U.S. Fire Administration site at https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/.
The primary tool to prevent deaths from fire is for every home to have smoke detectors installed. I always push for installing smoke detectors in homes that don’t have them. Put it simply working smoke detectors save lives in the event of a fire. Three out of five home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties with no or no working smoke alarms (Ahrens, 2017). The National Fire Protection Association has a program titled Planning & Implementing a Successful Smoke Alarm Installation Program that you can download from file:///C:/Users/frede/Downloads/Smoke%20Alarm%20Installation%20Guide.pdf. I encourage you to download this program and try to get a program working in your community.
When smoke detectors are installed they won’t help if they don’t work. I emphasize installing new batteries and testing in October. This again gets people in the habit of installing new batteries. There is normally a button on the detector that tests its operation. If the detector with charged batteries doesn’t sound an alarm when this button is pushed the detector must be replaced.
Another element I like to emphasize during October is developing and practicing an escape plan from the home. The National Fire Protection Association provides information to help with this task that can be accessed at http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Safety-in-the-home/Escape-planning/Basic-fire-escape-planning. It essential for everyone living in a home to understand how to get out of the home and where to meet nearby to ensure everyone is safe. This can be more difficult for families living in multi-family buildings. It is however just as important. Once a fire escape plan is developed it must be tested to ensure it works. Afterwards, families should practice there escape plan twice a year.
The loss of life is always terrible, but it can be worse in a situation where that loss of life could have been prevented. The loss of life in many fires can be prevented by installing and maintaining smoke detectors as well as developing and practicing a fire escape. Each October take the time to emphasize fire safety knowing that lives can be saved by the effort.
Home Fire Fatalities in the News retrieved on October 19, 2017, from https://apps.usfa.fema.gov/civilian-fatalities/incident/reportMap.
Ahrens, Mary, Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires September 2015 retrieved on October 10, 2017, from http://www.mysmokealarmla.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ossmokealarms.pdf