This week is fire prevention week in the United States. The very first national observation for fire prevention occurred in 1920, when president Woodrow Wilson issued the first fire prevention day. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states in 2011, a structure fire was reported every 65 seconds and one civilian fire-related death occurred approximately every three hours.
There are several important tips that can be used to help prevent fires. According to Capt. Richard Taylor of the Middlesboro Fire Department (MFD), it is important for all houses to have a smoke alarm that works. Household members should check the alarm at least twice a year.
Taylor also stated it is important to have two escape routes in case there is a fire and one route is blocked. There should also be a meeting place outside the residence for all family members.
Safe kitchen habits can also help prevent fires. Taylor said parents should teach their children about hot items in the kitchen. Each kitchen also needs a fire extinguisher that is suitable for the area. Water-based fire extinguishers could worsen grease fires.
“Water and grease do not mix,” said Taylor. “The water could actually help the fire spread.”
Taylor said checking all heating equipment before using them during the winter could cut down on fires as well. Cleaning the lent filter on a dryer is very important too, as well as shutting off portable space heaters when no one is in the room.
Fire prevention includes more than practicing safe habits. It also includes preventing arson. Anyone that sees suspicious activity around a house (vacant or not) should call their local police agency. There is a reward for anyone that has information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an arson.
The MFD will be doing several fire prevention presentations in area schools. According to the NFPA, this years theme across the nation is “Have two ways out”.
Any business that wants to have a fire prevention program can contact Taylor at the MFD office at 248-4683.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.