Fire Prevention Week has annually been observed since 1922 in honor of the Great Chicago Fire. According to popular legend, on October 8, 1871 Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lamp which led to 250 deaths and over 17,400 structures and 2,000 acres burned.
But did you know, on the exact same night as the Great Chicago Fire, the worst recorded forest fire in North American History took place in North Eastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? The Great Peshtigo Fire took up to 2,400 lives and burned over 16 cities and 1.2 million acres of land.
These tragedies can almost always be prevented, so in honor of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week, please sit down with your family and friends and prepare for the possibility of a house fire.
- Create a home escape plan and designate two different exit routes. Make sure all doors and windows are considered.
- Did you know that 71% percent of Americans have an escape plan, but only 47% have practiced it? Make sure to practice your plan annually!
- Have an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from your home during the event of a fire.
- Teach your children how to escape on their own if you cannot help them.
- If a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the house and do not return for any people or pets. Remember to get low under the smoke as you are leaving.
- If pets are left inside, try to give the fire department an exact location of where they would be. As a safety measure, keep your leashes near an accessible door for crews to use to rescue your pets.
- Home fire sprinklers save lives and property, and can also reduce the homeowner’s insurance premium.
- Install interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every level of your home. Make sure to check your smoke alarms each year, and completely replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old.
Home Fire Prevention
- Remove lint from your dryer after every use.
- Have your heating system checked and serviced regularly. Make sure to keep dust and flammable items away from these ignition sources.
- Avoid using outlet extenders because they can overload an electrical circuit.
- Be sure to properly extinguish any smoking materials on your property.
- Make sure to turn off and unplug hair straighteners and curlers.
As our beloved Smokey the Bear said, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” But this is true for all fires – only your diligence can prevent fires within your home. Make sure all your family members are prepared, even if the likelihood of a house fire seems small.
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