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'Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire can happen anywhere.'
The 2018 National Fire Protection Week campaign, 'Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,' was created to educate and remind citizens about the importance of not only preventing fires, but also to learn how to safely escape from one if it occurs in the home. Yearly campaigns aimed at promoting fire safety and survival are created by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and supported by fire departments and fire protection districts across the country, including the Buffalo Grove Fire Department.
In 2017, the NFPA reported there were more than 1.3 million fires in the United States causing $23 billion in property damage and losses, with a residential fire reported approximately every 90 seconds. These fires caused 3,400 deaths in addition to 15,000 injuries. The goal of this year’s National Fire Protection Week campaign is to educate people about three basic, but essential steps that can be taken, to reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring in the home––and if a fire is to occur, tips on how to increase the chances of escaping from it safely.
Look, Listen, Learn
“Look” for places that a fire could start by identifying potential fire hazards. Stovetops are one of the leading causes of house fires. When a burner is lit, a person should be watching it, and combustible items such as oven mitts, towels and paper products should be kept at a safe distance away (about three feet) from flames and grease splatters. Electrical problems are another leading cause of home fires. Power cords should not run under rugs or be attached by nails. It's important to remember to avoid overloading outlets with too many devices, and to only use extension cords and wires that are intact. Damaged or frayed cords and wire also present significant fire hazards.
“Listen” for the sound of a smoke alarm; there may only be minutes left for individuals to escape safely from a home once a smoke alarm goes off. Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including both inside and outside of bedrooms and sleeping areas. According to the NFPA, three out of five home fire deaths could have been prevented if there had been a working smoke detector. Also, listen for the chirping of a smoke alarm, which indicates it is time to change the battery. Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are just as important as smoke detectors. They can save lives in the event of a gas leak or a poorly vented fireplace, stove, or heating unit. CO is nicknamed the silent killer, because it can kill quickly without any detectable odor. A CO leak can cause death within 20 minutes of exposure but can render an individual unconscious and incapacitated even sooner. Such deaths are easily prevented by having CO detectors located on each level of the home.
“Learn” two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside can be opened easily, and are free of clutter. Statistics show that residents of a home may have as little as two minutes to escape from a fire before the chances of death increase dramatically.
Once a smoke detector or CO detector goes off, residents must get themselves and any other residents out of the home immediately because every second counts. House fires can double in size every minute. After getting out of the house, call 911 for help. Remember to not ever go back into a house that is on fire, for anyone or anything. Fire personnel will be on the way to help anyone else that may still be inside, and while material possessions are important, they simply cannot compare to saving a life.
No matter how careful residents are, there is no guarantee that a fire will not happen at some point. This is why it pays to be prepared by taking steps to reduce the risks of a fire; and if a fire occurs, knowing ahead of time what individuals must do to increase their chances for survival.
Remember to follow the three “P’s” – prevent, plan, and practice.