Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!

During the week of October 3-9, 2010, attention will be focused on promoting fire safety and prevention by not only the City of Fond du Lac Fire Department but from fire departments across the county. Each year, the week surrounding the date of October 9th is celebrated as National Fire Prevention Week. Why do we celebrate Fire Prevention Week during the week of October 9th you may ask? This date commemorates the infamous “Great Chicago Fire” of 1871 that killed 250 people and destroyed over 17,000 homes. While the Great Chicago Fire is the best-known blaze to start during this fiery two day stretch, it wasn’t the only notable fire or the biggest. The Peshtigo Fire that occurred on the same day just to the north of Chicago in Northeast Wisconsin was the most devastating forest fire in American history. Sixteen towns burned down killing 1,152 people and destroying 1.2 million acres of land before it ended.

These two fires changed the way firefighters and public officials thought about fire prevention and safety. On the 40th anniversary of these fires, the Fire Marshals Association of North America decided that this occasion should be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about fire prevention. In 1920, President Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9th falls. Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record in the United States.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With”, is designed to educate people about the importance of smoke alarms and encourages everyone to take the steps necessary to update and maintain their home smoke alarm protection.

Each year, nearly 3000 people die in U.S. home fires. About two-thirds of those deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Every three hours someone dies as a result of a home fire in the United States. Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. NFPA statistics show that properly working smoke alarms increase the chance of survivability from home fires by 50 percent.

City of Fond du Lac Fire Prevention Officer Tom Wendt offers these smoke alarm suggestions

• Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement. Larger homes may need additional alarms
• Test smoke alarms monthly
• Replace smoke alarm batteries twice a year
• Never remove or disable smoke alarms even temporarily
• Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years
• Regularly vacuum or dust smoke alarms to keep them working properly
• Make sure everyone can hear the sound of the smoke alarm
• When a smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out
• Have a home fire escape plan. Know two ways out of every room and establish a meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan twice a year

“Smoke alarms are the foundation for every family’s fire safety plan”, says Fire Prevention Officer Tom Wendt. According to Wendt, smoke alarms, along with carbon monoxide detectors and a practiced escape plan, are absolutely essential components to a family’s fire safety plan. For more information on “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With”, visit the National Fire Protection Association website at www.nfpa.org

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