Fire Prevention Week Fires are destructive and deadly, this much we know. However, how they started and how they will spread often remains a mystery. Take the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, for example. The cause of this massive, catastrophic force has never been discovered and has since been debated and theorized about for the last 140-plus years. Did a cow kick over a lantern in the O’Leary’s barn? We’ll likely never know, but as a reminder of the immense peril caused by fire, every year we recognize Fire Prevention Week surrounding the date of this fire and the even more cataclysmic one that occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin that same night – October 8, 1871. The lesson we remind ourselves of year after year is simple: fire prevention is important to all of us. How do house fires start? According to the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org): Over 2 out of every 5 house fires are from cooking equipment, most often including the range or cooktop 4 out 5 home heating-related fires are caused by space heaters 1 out of 3 “computer room” fires are caused by lighting equipment While 63% of the over 40,000 home structure fires that occur due to electrical failure or malfunction are caused by faulty wiring or related equipment, 20% is a result of lamps, light fixtures and light bulbs Prevention Here are some tips to proactively reduce the risk of of these fires: Keep a lid near the stovetop when cooking to smother small grease fires before they have a chance to spread Keep all flammable items at least three feet from space heaters and other heating sources Make sure to use proper wiring equipment and light bulbs that don’t produce an excessive amount of heat – choose LEDs! Have a professional electrician repair any damaged or exposed wiring in your home Smoke alarms save lives Information about effectively utilizing smoke detectors in our homes (source: http://www.nfpa.org/smokealarms): 3 out of 5 home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms There are 3 types of smoke alarms – ionization, photoelectric or dual – know the difference between them and be sure to get the right one for your home Working batteries are needed to operate smoke alarms – either disposable nine-volt or non-replaceable 10-year lithium (some units are still hard-wired to the home’s electrical system, but batteries can be used for backup power) Put them on every floor, in every bedroom and in the hallway outside of each sleeping area Place high on the wall or on the ceiling (check manufacturer’s instructions) Test monthly, replace batteries once a year and replace the entire alarm every 10 years (including those with 10-year lithium batteries) Take this opportunity to check your smoke alarms and make sure they are working properly. And, if you’re still using high-heat-producing incandescent bulbs in your home, consider upgrading to energy-efficient LED bulbs as yet another way of reducing the chance of staring fires in your home or business.
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