Prevention and planning key to avoiding tragedy

Published 10:15 am Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of Oct. 9 in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. It started on Oct. 8, 1871 and kept burning until Oct 10, 1871, when it began raining. The fire killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 without homes.

During Fire Safety Week firefighters, dedicate their time to fire safety education for children and adults in an effort to curb deaths and injuries caused by fire.

We all know prevention is the key to avoiding any type of injury. Keeping homes free of clutter and maintaining three feet of clearance around any appliance that generates heat, such as furnaces, space heaters, hot water tanks, fire places and wood stoves, is a good start. Combustible material closer than three feet can ignite from prolonged exposure to radiant heat. Contact with the heating appliance is not necessary for a fire to start.

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Kitchen fires can happen in an instant. Keep children and pets out of the kitchen area when using stove top or baking. Never leave stove unattended when cooking. Never pick up a burning pot or pan from stove. People are severely burned and fires spread by trying to remove a burning pot or pan from the stove.

When possible use a fire extinguisher, if none is available cover fire with lid to smother it. Never use water on a grease fire, it only makes a fire spread faster!

Poorly-installed electric wiring and damaged electrical devices are another factor in many fires.

Always use a qualified electrician install or repair wiring and a qualified repair tech on electrical devices. Never run space heaters or window air conditioners with an extension cord. Make sure cords on any electrical devices are free of damage not running under rugs, carpet or furniture. Keep cell phones and charging cables away from combustible items, including beds and cloth covered furniture.

Every home should have a working smoke detector, a fire extinguisher and an escape plan. The smoke detector needs to be mounted on ceiling near bedrooms and checked monthly to see if it is working. Your fire extinguisher needs to be hung on the wall and ready to grab not covered up with a coat or in a cabinet. You won’t have time to look for it!

Your escape plan should include two or more ways out of your home and have a meeting place outside the home to account for all family members.

Never go back inside a burning structure. Get out and stay out! Call 911 from neighbors or by cell. Give exact address and stay online with the dispatcher until they say it is OK to hang up.

Please stop by the station house at 526 S. 4th St., for more information fire safety tips and tour the station.

Please be safe.

Jeffrey Joseph is the fire inspector for the City of Ironton.