Commentary: Take simple steps to prevent home fires

Last week, Oct. 6–12, was Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme was “Not every Hero Wears a Cape, Plan and Practice Your Escape.”

This emphasizes for all of us to not be so complacent and use the “we will never have a fire in our house” attitude. Ask the thousands of people, every year, whose homes catch on fire if they thought beforehand that it would happen. Probably not.

Did Mrs. O’Leary, in 1871, think her cow was going to start the Great Chicago Fire? On Oct. 9, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire did happen. That fire propelled our nation into Fire Prevention. That’s why every Oct. 9 is when Fire Prevention Week falls. While the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association and number of its member volunteer fire companies practice fire prevention all year long, this is the week we go all out. We visit schools. School children visit us at our fire stations and the list of activities goes on. This is also the time of year when we run our poster and essay contest in all the schools in grades K-8. Does your school participate?

Warren Jones

The majority of fire deaths in the United States occur in the home. This year there have been six fire deaths in Delaware. What can you do to prevent this from happening? First and most importantly, plan and practice a home escape plan.

Next, make sure your smoke detectors are working. When was the last time you checked you detectors? Make sure your electrical outlets are not overloaded. If you use extension cords make sure they are the heavy duty type. Never plug too many electrical items into extension cords. Electrical fires are a major cause of home fires.

For wood or coal stoves or fireplaces, have a professional inspect them and the chimney every year, and have them cleaned as often as the inspections indicate. For wood-burning fireplaces, allow ashes to cool before disposing, dispose ashes in a metal container and keep the metal container outside away from the house. Space heaters should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn such as curtains, furniture and bedding. Be careful and not careless! Carelessness is another cause of home fires. Think about what you do and if that could cause a fire.

If you live in one of the modern homes of today with open floor plans and lightweight construction, take note that these homes burn quickly. Practice all the tips in this article and consider residential home sprinklers. The lives and processions your value are important, protect them. You never know when a fire will start. Practice home fire safety all year long!

Warren Jones is executive manager of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association.

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