In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson began the observation of a National Fire Prevention day, which has since grown to include the entire month of October.

A campaign that was inspired by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which destroyed more than 100,000 homes and claimed over 250 lives. October is a month dedicated to understanding fire prevention, spreading awareness and practicing effective prevention techniques to ensure that if disaster strikes communities will be prepared.

This month you can practice fire safety in your home by learning how to prevent, plan and escape a fire. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track:

Smoke alarms 

Install interconnected smoke alarms in each bedroom and throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound. Use the test feature to test your alarms monthly. Battery powered alarms should undergo battery replacement at least once a year. The National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that homeowners replace the alarms every 10 years.

Fire extinguishers

Have one or more working fire extinguishers in your home. Make sure that you know how to use the extinguisher before the emergency occurs. There is no time to read directions during a disaster and often different manufacturers operate in different ways.

Escape routes

Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to escape and where to meet once you’re all out. When fire spreads you may only have two minutes to get out – time your fire drills and know your escape time. Plan for two different escape routes in case one is blocked during evacuation. Know where you will go after you evacuate – pick several locations and keep the list updated.

Home Maintenance

Make sure your home heating sources are clean and in working order. Many residential fires are started by poorly maintained furnaces or stoves, cracked or rusted furnace parts, or chimneys with creosote buildup.

Pets

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says pets are responsible for over 1,000 house fires every year in the United States, and an estimated 40,000 pets die in fires, mostly from smoke inhalation. Being prepared and following safety tips could save your pets life, as well as your own. You may have heard of the dog that unintentionally turned on the stove and set a pizza box on fire while reaching for a slice. Fortunately the owners were home and were able to stop the fire from spreading, but this isn’t always the case. Some owners are not so lucky. Make sure that you do not leave pets unattended around open flames or in places such as the kitchen. Many home owners opt to install monitored smoke alarms that contact firefighters in case they are not home to do so themselves.

By making sure that homes are secure and well equipped to handle fire homeowners can prevent fires from spreading and devastating entire communities. There is no way to truly plan for disaster, but being prepared is an essential step to fire prevention.

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