Fire prevention: Plan 2 ways out

October has become a popular month for making people aware of various issues.

Besides breast cancer awareness, October also is designated as awareness month for lupus, AIDS, domestic violence, Down syndrome and the pituitary.

It’s also National Cholesterol Month, International Walk to School Month, National Popcorn Popping Month, Bullying Prevention Month, Cyber Security Month and Positive Attitude Month.

There’s also America’s Safe Schools Week and National Teen Driver Safety Week.

They are all important issues, but let’s hope National Fire Prevention Week, observed since 1922 and conducted in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, never gets lost among all of the awareness events and activities.

The Chicago fire, which started Oct. 8, 1871, killed more than 250 people and left more than 100,000 homeless. And no, it wasn’t started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow as many of us were told as children, although a true cause has never been determined.

The National Fire Protection Association recently announced “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” as the official theme for this year’s fire prevention week campaign, which begins Sunday and ends Oct. 14.

Experts say you may have as little as two minutes (or even less) to safely escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. In part, that’s because today’s homes burn faster than ever.

The Seymour Fire Department has had a busy year fighting fires, including two involving fatalities. This year, the department has had 27 reports of house fires. In 2016, Seymour firefighters responded to reports of 32 house fires.

Each year during National Fire Prevention Week, Seymour firefighters conduct a program in schools for fourth-graders. They also visit local preschools talking about fire prevention and safety, and local kindergarten students get the chance to visit the headquarters to talk about the same issues with firefighters and Fire Pup.

Seymour firefighters are always willing to talk about fire safety with anyone interested in learning more, Fire Chief Brad Lucas said.

Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department, which has averaged nearly 70 fire runs a year over the past three years, also conducts fire prevention and safety talks with local preschoolers and first-, second- and third-graders during the week, Chief Eric Browalski said.

“Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” is aimed at making sure people know the importance of home escape planning and practice in the event of a house fire.

A home escape plan includes:

  • Working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas.
  • Two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window.
  • A clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

The association also recommends home escape plans be practiced by all members of the household twice a year.

A practiced home escape plan may be just enough to save someone’s live when fire strikes.

On the Web

For information about National Fire Prevention Week and this year’s campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out,” visit firepreventionweek.org.