Since 1922, the second week of October has been designated as Fire Prevention Week (FPW). In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed National Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires. The campaign is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), who also sets the FPW theme each year.
National Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage. This horrific conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.
This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!”. It was inspired by the alarming results of a survey conducted by the NFPA which showed that about 75 percent of Americans have created a home fire escape plan, but less than half of them have ever practiced their plans. NFPA recommends you map out detailed escape routes, as well as practice them with your family at least twice a year.
During FPW, there are many ways to spread fire safety awareness. On NFPA’s website, you can find a variety of materials to teach fire safety to students, the elderly, and others in your community. It also shares simple steps to promote FPW through social media and other outlets.
National Fire Prevention Week is the perfect time to discuss fire safety with your family. Follow these guidelines for creating a home fire escape plan:
- Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
- Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
- Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
- Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
- Smoke alarms should be installed throughout the home including the kitchen, basement, and every bedroom and outside sleeping area.
- Never remove or disable smoke alarms.
- Test smoke alarms at least once per month by pushing the test button.
- Interconnect smoke alarms so if one sounds, they all do.
- If smoke alarms don’t work, replace the correct size battery or the entire smoke alarm unit.
- Place a portable ladder in each second-floor room.
- Have an updated emergency first aid kit.
- Check fire extinguishers for expiration and replace as needed.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors.
- Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
- Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.