National Fire Prevention Month, which officially began in 1922, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, has been the longest public safety and health campaign in United States history.  The National Fire Protection Association has designated the week of October 4 – 10, 2009, as National Fire Prevention Week, with its focus on burn awareness and prevention, as well as keeping homes safe from fires.  This year’s theme is “Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned!”

Here are some facts from the NFPA regarding home fires in 2008 in the United States:

  • There were 386,500 home fires, resulting in 2,755 deaths.
  • Fire departments responded to home fires every 81 seconds.
  • The kitchen is the leading area of origin for home fires.
  • Unattended cooking is one of the main causes.
  • Bedrooms and family/living rooms are the area of origin in home fires that result in death.
  • Smoking materials cause 1 in 4 fire deaths in the U.S.
  • One of four victims of fatal smoking-related fires is not the person who started the fire.
  • Furniture, mattresses, or bedding are usually the materials that catch on fire from someone smoking carelessly.
  • Space heaters cause far more fires and loss than central heat; the main reason is there are materials too close to them that can burn.
  • Electrical wiring, switches, outlets, lamps, light fixtures, and lighting equipment are also major causes of home fires.
  • Smoke alarms can cut your chances of dying in half in a reported fire.  It has been found that in more than one-half of responses to house fires, smoke alarms were present, but had no batteries, or had been dismantled because of their noise.
  • Not enough American households have a fire escape plan and practice it.
  • There were 320 deaths and $542 million in property loss last year as a result of intentionally set home structure fires.  One-half of the people arrested for arson were under age 18.

We hope these facts make you a little more aware of the danger and destruction of home fires.

I have seen first hand in our own neighborhood, the result of a person’s smoking and falling asleep: he died, as well as two innocent persons in the home, his wife and grandchild.  Many of the firefighters were young men, and had not had to deal with death from a fire before this happened.  It was a very devastating time for the family, firemen, and community.

Other articles you may wish to review are “Don’t Get Burned”, “Preventing Home Cooking Fires”, and “Fire Extinguishers”, which you may find helpful.


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