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Fire prevention must start with awareness

Last year Lawrence County earned a first-place distinction it would much rather have avoided.

In 2010, Lawrence County ranked first in the state for fire-related fatalities and was among the highest over the past decade. These were shocking statistics that helped open many people’s eyes to the need for prevention, preparation and education.

The numbers were inflated because the tragedy in Pedro that claimed the lives of five people. However this is Fire Prevention Week and is a great launching pad for safety efforts and a renewed focus in our homes and businesses.

Area fire departments are doing their part by conducting safety demonstrations for children and urging citizens to use smoke detectors in their homes.

Among other agencies, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness offers fire safety tips.

Annually, there are about 15,300 fires in the place we feel safest – our homes. Fire data shows that over the past three years, on average, nearly 75 percent of the people who died each year in Ohio residential fires did not have a working smoke detector in their home.

Here are basic tips from the OCSWA:

> Check your smoke detectors monthly. Only a working smoke detector can save your life. Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year.

> Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and sleeping areas. Sleep with your bedroom door closed.

> Develop an escape plan with your family – at least twice a year. Include a nighttime drill.

> Install a carbon monoxide detector if you have any appliance or device that has a flame – stove, water heater, furnace, fireplace, space heater, etc.

> Do not use your stove or oven to heat your house.

Not making basic efforts for fire preparation is something that many people regret after it is too late, but it only takes a few minutes to ensure your family is safe and sound if something were to happen.