Since 1922, officials have been trying to increase public awareness of fire accidents and the dangers of fire fatalities by an annual campaign known as “National Fire Prevention Week.”
This fire injury safety campaign is one of the oldest public awareness drives in our national history.
Commemorates the Great Chicago Fire
National Fire Prevention Week is observed on the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, which blazed over October 8-9, 1871, killing over 250 people and destroying over 17,400 dwellings.
According to legend, the infamous fire was started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over a lantern.
Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out
Each year, for close to 100 years now, the safety campaign has a specific focus. In 1940, it was “Keep Fire in its Place.” In 1985, it was “Fire Drills Save Lives at Home at School at Work.”
This year, the 2017 theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.”
What does that mean? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it’s getting the message out to families and loved ones that homes burn faster today than in years past. This is particularly true for newer homes, in more modern subdivisions and planned communities.
People living in newer construction may have as little as 120 seconds to get out of the dwelling before they are fire victims.
“Modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, all contribute to an increased rate at which home fires burn. These factors make home escape planning and practice critical.”
How Vulnerable Are We to Being Hurt or Killed in Our Homes from Fire?
According to the NFPA, most of us don’t understand how vulnerable we are to being hurt or killed in a house fire. Far too many Americans – including those living in Indiana and Illinois — do not know the real danger of a serious fire and its fatal risk to those in the home.
“Home is the place people are at greatest risk of fire, but ironically, it’s the place they feel safest from it,” Carli said. “That overconfidence may contribute to the public’s continued lack of awareness around home escape planning and practice.”
- Fewer than half (48 percent) know the correct components of a home fire escape plan include working smoke alarms, two ways out of each room, and an outside meeting place.
- Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) don’t know that each room in the home should have at least two exits.
- Close to three (57 percent) think that in a typical single-family home fire situation, once the smoke alarm sounds, the average person would have more than two minutes to escape safely.
National Fire Prevention Week in Illinois and Indiana
Both Illinois and Indiana work to raise awareness of the particular kinds of danger we face in our part of the country to fire, particularly residential fires. This year is no different, and over the next few weeks we should be seeing and hearing all sorts of messages about the risk of fire and education pieces on fire safety.
Illinois Fire Prevention Week
For example, throughout the State of Illinois, kids will be hearing from visiting firefighters on Fire Prevention and specifically, the campaign’s theme of “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out.”
According to Illinois State Fire Marshall Matt Perez, Illinois has had “…many success stories of actual incidents where a family safely exited their home and the children drew on the education we provided.”
Firefighters will provide information to the kids. They will also be asking the children to go home and practice a home fire drill with their families. They ask that these home fire drills be done twice a year with one at night and the other during the daylight hours.
Indiana Fire Prevention Week
Meanwhile, the Indiana State Fire Marshall, Jim Greeson, is working with schools across the Hoosier State asking that each school participate this week in the Statewide Fire Drill.
The Indiana Statewide Fire Drill planned for Fire Prevention Week will educate the children on the need to be prepared for a fire emergency by having school fire drills occur sometime during National Fire Prevention Week. (Registration Form). The Indiana Department of Education provides details for teachers and administrators.
Elsewhere in Indiana, individual fire departments are working with their communities to increase fire safety awareness this week. For instance, the Carmel Fire Department will be hosting an open house on Wednesday, October 10, 2017, for the public to tour the firehouse and to discuss fire safety and preventing fires with the Carmel, Indiana Firefighters.
Serious Fire Injuries and Death from Fires in Homes and Residences
This year’s focus is fire risks in the homes, apartments, duplexes, and condos of those of us living in Indiana and Illinois. Residential fires seriously injure and kill far too many people each year, even with modern gizmos like smoke alarms.
Research reports that 7 people die every day in a residential home fire in this country.
In 2015, there were over 365,500 fires in houses or residential properties. Over 11,000 people were injured in these fires and 2,560 died from their fire injuries.
How dangerous is a fire injury in a home or residential property? Research shows:
- Most fatal fires in a home or residence kill 1 -2 people in that house (or apartment or condo);
- Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires;
- Heaters and heating equipment is the second most common cause of fires in a home or residence;
- Fires break out most often in the bedroom (25%); and
- Most people die in fires that happened after dark (between eleven o’clock at night and seven o’clock in the morning).
Fire Injuries and Fire Fatalities: Justice for Fire Accident Victims
Our part of the country experiences cold, sometimes brutal winter weather and we know the importance of having those heaters running during cold winter nights.
We stay indoors more during the winter months, too: we’ll cook a meal at home before venturing out in the freezing snow to eat at a nearby restaurant or to pick up some fast food.
It’s part of living in our area, and we’re used to it. We’ve got our space heaters, toaster ovens, and extension cords ready to go.
We need to be aware and vigilant in the upcoming cold season to the need for fire safety, as National Fire Prevention Week warns. Because each year, there are people that die in fire accidents here in Indiana and Illinois.
In our next post, we’ll discuss how people can be innocent victims of a fire accident and a fatal fire tragedy, and what can be done not only to try and prevent these fire accidents but they can find justice in the aftermath. Let’s be careful out there!