The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is calling on everyone to always keep an eye out for fire, wherever and whenever. The governing body recently released the theme for Fire Prevention Week this 2018: “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware — fire can happen anywhere.”
The theme is a burning reminder that no one should take safety for granted; people should always be aware of the risk of fire, whether you’re a first responder or a civilian.
Fire can Happen Anywhere
In general, U.S. fire departments respond to a fire every 24 seconds. For every 66 seconds, a structure is on fire. A home fire is reported every 90 seconds. An unclassified or outside fire happens every 48 seconds while a highway vehicle fire is reported every 182 seconds.
Being mindful of your surroundings can make all the difference when it comes to your safety. This year’s Fire Prevention Week covers three simple calls-to-action that will help you practice awareness:
- Look — for places fire can start
- Listen — for the sound of the smoke alarm
- Learn — two ways out of each room
When you’re alert, you can make that split-second decision that could potentially save someone’s life.
The Leading Causes of Fire
The National Fire Protection Association reports an overview of the fire problem in America; the fire death rate rose to about 10 percent higher in 2016 than it was in 1980. About 81 percent of civilian fire deaths and 73 percent of civilian fire injuries were due to home structure fires. The numbers show the prevalence of home fires and their deadly nature.
Prevention starts with knowing how this destructive force occurs. When you know how a simple spark turns into a blazing inferno, you’ll be in a better position to reduce its incidence.
Here are the leading causes of home structure fires from 2011 to 2016.
- Cooking equipment caused 47 percent of home fires. Cooking is the leading cause of fires in residential properties. It’s also the second leading cause of home fire death, at 20 percent.
- Heating equipment caused 16 percent of home fires. These also resulted in about 19 percent of civilian deaths.
- Electrical distribution and lighting equipment contributed to 9 percent of home fires. They also caused about 18 percent of civilian deaths.
- Eight percent of the fires were intentional, according to the NFPA. It caused about 16 percent of the recorded civilian deaths.
- Smoking materials, on the other hand, caused five percent of fires in homes. These materials are the leading cause of home fire deaths, as reported by the NFPA.
What Adults Should Know and Do
The theme for Fire Prevention Week this 2018 can apply in any location, but it’s more critical application has to be in residential properties—where a majority of destructive blazes occur.
Paying attention is important, as established earlier. The next step is to take every necessary precaution to ensure your (and those of others) safety and protection in the event of a fire.
Here’s what you need to know about fire protection:
- Working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a house fire in half
- Having an escape plan is necessary but practicing it is also as important
- Find two ways out of every room at home or in a building
- Look for fire safety signs wherever you go
- Keep tabs on all fire exit signs in every house, school, office, or any building
- Remember the location of the fire extinguisher and learn how to use one
Awareness is not enough, of course. You’ll need a plan to guide your actions in the event of a fire. Whether you’re the head of the family or the owner of a business, you need to develop suitable fire prevention and emergency plans well. And you need to communicate these plans to everyone in your family or organization.
Printing out the plan and posting them would serve as an effective reminder to your loved ones or employees. Make sure these plans are visible everywhere and are easily understood, even by kids.
Educate Children at all Times
Fire departments value teaching kids because knowing safety knows no age.
- Start by teaching kids what the basic fire safety symbols mean. Some fire safety signs may seem confusing, so it’s best that you explain them plainly.
- Plot out where the fire exits are located. Remind them that it’s important because they could be heroes someday should a fire occur. Tell kids how vital it is to always look for the fire exit of the building they are in.
- Read books to kids that show how they can prevent and stop fires from happening. Teaching a fire escape song is another great way to make kids remember fire safety steps.
It’s not enough to talk about and go over the plan either. You also need to practice the written steps because drills help you determine if your plans work.
Practice Drills for Safety Precautions
Tell kids that it’s OK to panic at first because it’s the body’s instinct for survival. Being scared is fine, but overcoming it is important. You can help them through this by practicing fire drills. They can start by practicing how to hold a bell, sound off the alarm, or scream “Fire! Fire!” until somebody comes to their rescue.
A game of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” can be a fun activity where kids can still learn an invaluable lesson. Be sure to tell them when they need to “stay low and go,” as well.
Here’s another set of reminders you can tell children:
- Spot smoke detectors
- Windows serve as a source of fresh air
- Remember the meeting spot
- Cover the mouth with a wet handkerchief or cloth
Fire safety does not always entail a scary or serious conversation with children. It can be fun, as long as the kids get the message about fire safety precautions.
Fight Fire with Technology
It’s true that technology is paving the way for safer home appliances. These appliances reduce the risk of heat from turning into a blaze.
The Automist Smartscan, for example, features a fire protection system that integrates with your fire detectors. This technology has a nozzle that scans a room using an infrared sensor to figure out a fire condition, allowing it to respond accordingly with a pump-operated water supply to take care of a fire in the kitchen. This type of technology is suitable for people who have a tendency to be careless.
Still, nothing replaces knowledge, alertness, and training (if you’ve decided to volunteer as a firefighter)
Knowing about fire safety can reduce the destruction that a conflagration can cause, from damaged properties to fatalities. Preventing even one slight chance of ignition from turning into an uncontrollable fire could save lives and property.
So be in the know. Remain alert and attentive. Look, listen, and learn. And always keep children prepared and in the loop. That way, you know everyone is safe.