Since 1992, the National Fire Protection Association has celebrated Fire Safety Week during the first full week of October. This year Fire Safety Week occurred from October 4 to 10.
Pinpointing Flammable Materials
The purpose of Fire Safety Week is to provide awareness of unsafe conditions in homes and businesses that could potentially cause fires. This prevention action encourages home and business owners to correct potentially flammable situations so that fire prevention at the forefront.
Local fire fighters and other organizations will provide home, school, and business checks to assist owners and occupants in fire prevention.
In addition to checking fire alarms, they will investigate and warn occupants against:
- Pots and pans left simmering unattended on the stove
- Overloaded electrical systems
- Storage of combustible materials without proper protection
- Equipment that generates heat or sparks and is near combustible materials
- Rags soaked in solvents and left stored in closed cans or trash cans
- Improperly cleaned or uncleaned fireplace chimneys
- Electrical wiring in poor condition
- Leaking batteries
- Exterior cooking equipment too near the house
- Insufficient electrical system for the devices for which it is being used
- Paper, cloth, and other flammable materials improperly stored
- Lack of fire extinguishers or improper types of fire extinguishers for potential fire areas like kitchen or workshop
Smoke Detector Awareness
Fire safety week also raises awareness of the need for smoke detectors and for a fire escape plan that is well known and practiced regularly by the inhabitants of the home or business. Since over sixty percent of fire deaths in the US occur because of non-existing or non-working smoke detectors, this is the main initiative of National Fire Safety Week. 20% of fires were reported by the occupants during the times when people are normally sleeping because fire alarms did not awaken them. If they are present, but fail, it is often because smoke alarms have dead batteries or the batteries have been removed. National Fire Safety Week activities hope to raise homeowners’ awareness of the need to check smoke detectors each season and replace batteries at least once a year.
Another area of concern regarding smoke alarms is their location. This year’s main theme is installation of smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each bedroom and on every level of the home including the basement. This standard may mean many homeowners will need to install more smoke alarms.
Properly installed and maintained smoke detectors save lives. During National Fire Safety Week fire fighters and volunteers seek to provide education to the public regarding the proper use of smoke detectors.
Did you know?
Smoke alarms should be fully replaced every ten years.
Testing and replacing smoke alarms when you move to a new residence is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association.
If the smoke alarms in your home are powered by battery, it should have either a disposable nine-volt battery or a non-replaceable ten-year lithium battery. Alarms that are powered by your home's electrical system are “hardwired”. These usually have a back-up battery, which should be replaced annually.
The Institution of Fire Engineers estimates that in order for all American homes to be fully protected, there is a need for an additional 100 million smoke alarms.
You need more than one type of smoke detector. Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. Since you cannot predict which type of fire you might have, the National Fire Protection Association recommends installing both ionization and photoelectric alarms, or purchasing alarms that have both types of sensors.
You can now buy interconnected or linked smoke detectors. They are connected to each other wirelessly. If there is a fire in your basement, the detector in your bedroom will go off immediately not when the smoke reaches it. This gives you more time to escape your home in the case of a fire!
Smoke detectors are inexpensive insurance. The cost of a detector ranges from about $6 to $20. When buying, err on the side of buying MORE detectors as opposed to more expensive ones. During National Fire Prevention Week many local fire departments offer reasonably priced smoke detectors and some even install them free of charge!
Cooking equipment accounted for the most fire injuries followed by heating equipment.
Smoking is still the leading single cause of fire-related deaths despite the steady decrease in smokers in North America.
Fire Escape Plan
How long do you have to escape your house after a smoke detector goes off? Not nearly as much time as you think! According to the National Fire Prevention Association, fire can spread through your home in a minute or two after the alarm sounds. Immediate, well-thought out and practiced escape plans are critical to getting everyone out safely in the case of a fire.
Seventy-five percent of American homes have alternate exits in case of fire. Only one in every three families in USA has a fire escape plan, according to an NFPA survey. Fewer yet have made each family member aware of that plan and practiced a home fire escape plan regularly.
32% of those surveyed admitted that it was highly unlikely they could flee their burning home in five minutes or less. They cited things like large area, more than one level, children sleeping in an area distance from adults and lack of regular practice of a fire evacuation plan as problems.
If you have children marking two ways out of every room including windows and doors is a good strategy. Practice escape plans with “fire” started in various rooms. Make sure each escape route can be used by every member of your family. Make sure all routes are free of things that could block the path of escape. It is also important to ensure everyone knows how to open window and door latches.
Fire Fighter Appreciation
A third area of focus of National Fire Prevention Week is on fire fighters and the community services they perform. In 2013, American fire fighters responded to nearly 370,000 home fires. These fires caused 2,755 deaths, 12,200 civilian injuries, and over $7.0 billion in direct fire damage