This year’s National Fire Prevention Week, themed “Have two ways out!,” fell on October 7 -13. The annual awareness and prevention campaign was established in 1927 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. This year’s Fire Prevention Week follows on the heels of a new report on home structure fires issued by the National Fire Protection Association in August.
During 2006-2010, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average 371,700 home structure fires annually. These fires caused a per year average of 2,590 civilian deaths, 12,910 civilian injuries, and $7.2 billion in damage. While cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and injuries, causing 42% of fires and 38% of injuries, smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Smoking caused only 5% of home structure fires, but caused 24% of deaths. Heating equipment was the second most prevalent cause of civilian deaths, at 20%. See Report.
There are many ways to prevent home structure fires and many ways to prevent injury and death should a structure fire occur. Remain in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food and keep space heaters and candles at least three feet away from combustibles to help control some common household hazards. Using sturdy, deep ashtrays and asking smokers to smoke outside and away from combustibles such as bedding and upholstery can go a long way in preventing deadly fires caused by smoking. Finally, installing, testing, and maintaining adequate smoke detectors in your home is essential to prevent fire injuries and deaths. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s recent report, “almost all homes have at least one smoke alarm, but almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2006-2010 resulted from fires in homes in which no smoke alarm was present or at least one was present but none operated.”
For more information regarding fire prevention can be found on the National Fire Protection Association’s website or at your local fire department. Humboldt Bay Fire Department offers information through the City of Eureka’s website, encourages questions from citizens regarding fire protection, and offers public safety presentations for children and adults alike.