GRAFTON—With a promise to help protect the people and property from fire in Taylor County, the Grafton Fire Department realizes the importance of educating against the harmful effects of fires.
The fire department’s fire prevention education is on-going all year long, but the department focuses their efforts during the annual Fire Prevention Week. This year, the special week was held from Sunday, October 6 through Saturday, Oct 12.
During the week, the fire department will have their fire house set up at Anna Jarvis Elementary School, to teach students about the importance of fire safety in a simulated setting.
The fire prevention house has been used by the department for over 20 years and has helped educate over 1,000 children annually on the dangers of fire and what should be done in the event of one.
During their time in the fire house, students are able to tour the rooms and learn how each room can pose a particular threat. Whether it is a fireplace in a living room or the stove in a kitchen, students learn rules and tips for their proper use.
Firefighters simulate an actual home fire, using fog machines to fill the fire safety house with “smoke,” activating real smoke alarms, allowing the children to hear first-hand how they sound.
The students are then taught to remain low to the floor, and to exit the house in a timely fashion, meeting at a designated spot outside.
The department also shows an informational, but fun, video to students, reiterating safety techniques and how to help prevent fires.
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Prevention Week was created in 1922, and in 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in the country.
The educational observance is held each year during the week of October 9, to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire.
While educating children in important, teenagers, adults and the elderly should also take time during the week to make sure they understand how to stay safe in case of a fire.
This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Not Every Hero Wears A Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”
“While most of us enjoy watching superheroes saving the world in movies, the theme of Fire Prevention Week is that someone doesn’t have to “wear a cape” to be a hero,” shared Timothy Rock, Public Information Specialist for the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office.
He went on to say that a hero can come in the form of someone who takes small measures to keep themselves and those around them safe from the risk of fire.
Some of those small actions can include devising a home fire escape plan and practicing it before a fire even starts.
“Planning and practicing an escape from a home or workplace is a heroic and empowering task for us all,” Rock expressed.
According to the fire marshal’s office, the plan should include two exits from the home, forming a meeting place outside of the home for all family members to gather at after exiting the building and most importantly, learning the basics of calling 911 to report a fire.
Fire Prevention Week is also the perfect time for families to make sure that smoke alarms are properly installed and working. Alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
When installed correctly, smoke alarms save lives, and statistics show they cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
The office also encourages residents to avoid unattended cooking, noting that it is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
Finally, individuals are urged to inspect their heating equipment.
“Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires during the winter months,” Rock shared. “And space heaters are most often involved in home heating equipment fires.”
Individuals should ensure that the heaters have adequate space, approximately three feet, around them. Children should also keep a three-foot buffer between them and the heaters to help reduce the risk of burns.
“Heating equipment and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected by a licensed professional yearly,” Rock noted.
By following some of these tips and taking time to educate yourself and your children about fire safety and prevention, you can be a hero.
For more tips on Fire Prevention Week, fire safety tips and home escape planning, please visit www.firepreventionweek.org.