Fire Prevention Week marks 100th anniversary

For the 100th time, the National Fire Prevention Association has designated the second week of October Fire Prevention Week.

The theme for this year’s week, which runs from Oct. 9-15, is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”

According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. And families might have as little as two minutes — or even less time — to escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

Speaking of smoke alarms, they should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.

A continued set of three loud beeps means smoke or fire. A single “chirp” every 30 or 60 seconds mean the battery is low and must be changed. (Public safety campaigns remind residents to change the batteries in their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors when adjusting the clocks twice a year for daylight saving time.)

The NFPA offers the following tips specific to this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme.

• Make a home escape plan. Draw a map of your home showing all doors and windows, and discuss the plan with everyone who lives there. Materials are available on the association’s website at

• Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.

• Have an outside meeting place — like a tree or a light pole — a safe distance from the home where everyone should gather.

• Practice your home fire drill at night and during the day with everyone in your home twice a year.

• Practice using different ways out.

• Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.

• Close doors behind you as you leave.

• If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets.

• If you have to escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.

• Call 911 to alert the fire department from outside your home.

Residents can learn more about fire prevention at the Police/Fire Open House this Saturday at the police/fire station, 121 Symonds Drive.

The event includes a live burn that shows just how quickly fires can become deadly. The demonstration provides a side-by-side comparison with two similarly furnished rooms. One has a single fire sprinkler installed; the other does not. The live burn adds perspective as firefighters discuss typical fire department response times, the importance of working smoke alarms for early warning and well-practiced escape plans. For more details about the open house, read the story on Page 17.

Fire Prevention Week was first sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association in 1922 and became a national observance in 1925, making it the longest-running public health observance in the country.

Its message is just as relevant today as it was a century ago.