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It’s fire prevention week. Make sure you and your kids take note.

Fire Prevention Week is more focused on protection than prevention, this year. The them is “Protecting your family from fire.” It seems obvious. When a home fire starts, we’re not thinking about fire damage, we’re thinking about the safety of our loved ones. But thoughts aren’t always enough. We’ve got to have a plan and take action.

Almost 80% of fires in the United States occur in residences. Most home fires start in the kitchen, in the evenings. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Half of all U.S. home fires occur in December, January and February (while we’re making hot soup? roasting a turkey?). What will you do if your home is one of the statistics? The National Fire Protection Association gives some good guidelines on how to be prepared for the unthinkable.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Make sure your kids know what the fire alarm sounds like. Little Johnny Junior might think his Game Boy is trying to talk to him. Make sure your kids know what that crazy sound means.
  • Make sure your kids know where to meet outside of the house. This is just like at elementary school.
  • Make sure that there are two escape routes out of each room. This takes some extra planning for second story bedrooms.
  • Make your home fire escape plan known to your whole family.
  • Practice it twice a year.

One thing I found lacking in the home fire escape planning department was consideration for family pets. Considering that Sparky the Dog is the new mascot of fire safety, I found the omission of Fido in the initial escape plan a little disconcerting.

I’m no Fire Marshall, but I’d recommend making the dog’s safety someone’s responsibility. Of course, you and the kids are the priority, but the dog is a significant family member, too. Maybe something like “I’ll get the kids; you get  Fido,” could be part of the responsibilities parents take in the home fire escape plan?

Let us know about your home fire escape plans. Is the dog part of the plan? What would you take with you if you only have 15 seconds? Are there two escape exits from each room in your home?

It is interesting to note that fire prevention week was initially established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871. Sparky the Dog is the new mascot of fire safety, but given the history of the event, a cow might be more appropriate? I am still partial to Smokey (you can print the image and color it in).

Home Fire Prevention Resources:

FEMA has some good fire prevention information.
Here is useful Family Checklist.
You and your kids can make a Home Fire Escape Plan together.