It was nice to see so many of our area firefighters visiting with children last week as an outreach of Fire Prevention Week.
The theme of the week, as campaigned by the National Fire Protection Association, was "Prevent Kitchen Fires."
Posters and stickers were passed out to many children, reminding them of the seriousness of fire. Other kids received a red, plastic firefighter's helmet. And many more were able to try out a firefighter's uniform and board an actual fire truck.
The "Kids Safety House," developed by the Chester VFD, provides a great hands-on teaching tool. They are to be commended in bringing this to our community.
A message, throughout all these visits, also was presented to our children; one of safety.
The thing we all need to remember, though, is being prepared, in the event of a fire, should be a year-round practice.
It's great these brave men and women, many of them volunteers, take the time to share the fire prevention message with our youngsters, but all adults should frequently share similar messages of safety with our children.
It is important to have a home fire escape plan. Smoke alarms should be present, and the batteries checked annually.
It's scary to think about, but, according to the NFPA, on average, seven people die in U.S. home fires per day.
In 2011, the most recent statistics available, U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,910 civilian injuries, 2,520 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, thus the emphasis on kitchen fires this year. Smoking is a leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2011, 12 home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 67 deaths.
Some of these deaths may have been averted by having an escape plan. Does your family have one?
It's simple to devise, actually. Go to www.nfpa.org for information.
Smoke alarms also can be a life-saving device.
It's reported that 62 percent of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
Fire Prevention Week has passed, yes, but it shouldn't stop you from being prepared.