During a fire, every second counts.  A few seconds can be the difference between escaping a fire safely and devastating consequences. Teaching people of all ages about fire safety can improve the chances of a person’s survival during a fire. Fire prevention education is so important that there is a week every October dedicated to Fire Prevention Week.

Fire Prevention Week was first established as a national observance in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge. This week commemorates the devastating Great Chicago Fire. The NFPA has sponsored Fire Prevention Week since 1922 in an effort to prevent the occurrence of disastrous fires and educate the public on fire safety. This year, Fire Prevention Week is October 7-13.

 “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

Every year, Fire Prevention Week runs a campaign to educate the public on fire safety. This year’s campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” teaches three steps to reduce the chance of a fire and educates on safe escape if a fire does occur.

LOOK for Potential Fire Hazards

Take some time to look around in your home or business and identify possible fire hazards. The most common fire hazards are cooking, heating equipment, electrical equipment, candles, and smoking materials. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Many cooking fires start when cooking is left unattended. Always keep a close eye on what you are cooking. Remember to have chimneys and other cleaning equipment cleaned each year and turn off space heaters before you leave the room or go to sleep. Make sure you are using electrical equipment properly. Do not overload your outlets and use extension cords properly. If you or someone you live with is a smoker, only smoke outside and throw away butts and ashes safely.

LISTEN for Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are critical to Life Safety in the event of a fire. Smoke alarms work as the first line of defense in a fire by alerting everyone that there is a fire and giving them time to evacuate. Having smoke alarms in your home cuts risk of death from a fire in half. Make sure to install smoke alarms in every level of your home and in every bedroom. Test smoke alarms every month and replace them if they are more than 10 years old. Also, you should interconnect the alarms in your home so that all smoke alarms will go off simultaneously, alerting everyone in your home.

LEARN Your Escape Plan

Time is crucial when a fire occurs. Every second counts when trying to safely escape a fire. Creating and practicing a fire escape plan for your home will lower the amount of time it takes you to escape in the event of a fire and will increase your chances of getting out safely. The general rule for escape plans is to have two ways out of every room. Usually these two escape exits are a door and a window.  You also should identify a path from each exit to the outside of your home and designate a safe meeting place for everyone to gather. Once you have created a home escape plan, practice it with your family at least twice a year.

Knowing fire prevention techniques can save lives. If you want to know more about fire prevention week take a look at many great fire prevention resources, visit the NFPA’s website.