Fire Prevention Week is October 7-13

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Few people ever imagine a fire happening in their home. But when you consider U.S. firefighters respond to an average of one home fire every 8.6 seconds, it’s a whole lot easier to take fire prevention seriously.

National Fire Prevention and Safety Week is Oct. 7-13, and this year’s campaign reminds the public to “Look. Listen. Learn. Be Aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

Rushford Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chad Rasmussen says one room above all others seems to be where the greatest number of fires start. “A lot of them do start in the kitchen,” Rasmussen said. “People use their stoves to cook food and have been known to walk away and leave them on. The best way to prevent that is to make sure someone is around the entire time you’re using things like the stove and never leave it unattended. Do not forget to shut it off when you’re done and make sure that little kids stay away from the stove. A lot of burns can come out of the kitchen.”

Bedrooms are another potential trouble spot, especially as the weather gets colder. People often use electric heaters to stay warmer at night and those heaters can be dangerous if not monitored properly.

“If those heaters get too close to the blanket, or maybe to clothes on the floor, that can easily start a fire,” Rasmussen said. “I understand that you need to use the heaters to stay warm but just make sure there’s nothing around them when they’re on. If a blanket falls on top of it, the heater gets so hot it starts the blanket on fire. After that, a fire can take off very quickly from there.”

Fireplaces are another area to keep an eye on when it comes to fire prevention. Rasmussen says gas fireplaces or wood stoves in a living room are another common home fire culprit. He said living rooms are a lot like kitchens in that, once there’s a fire in that room, it goes up quickly.

“With the things that couches and chairs are made of these days, it doesn’t take a lot to get those things going,” he said. “Once a fire really gets going, there isn’t a lot of hope for putting it out.

While Rasmussen said it’s important to call 911 quickly as in the event of a fire, he stresses personal safety is paramount. If it’s a small fire that’s just started, he said to call 911 and then get family members and pets gathered up and out of the house.

“One big thing we teach is to have a family plan on how to get out of the house if there’s a fire,” he said. “Let all of the children in the house, from youngest to oldest, know how to get out of the house and where to go to meet everyone else. The number one thing is to get everyone out of the house. A house can be rebuilt. If you stay in the house to try and fight the fire and don’t make it out, it doesn’t do anyone any good at all.”

There are important things to remember if bedrooms are on the second or third floors of a multi-story house. First and foremost, let the 911 dispatcher know that someone is still in the house, and on one of the upper-floors, so they can relay that status to firefighters.

“If you’re stuck in a certain room, make sure you close the door,” Rasmussen said. “If there’s a towel available, roll it up and put it at the base of the door to keep the smoke out. It’s even better if the towel is wet. Get to a window so the firefighters can see where you’re at when they get there.”

The National Fire Prevention Association 2018 educational campaign encourages the public to:

Look – Take a look around your home and identify places that fires could potentially start and take care of them.

Listen – For the sound of the smoke alarm. Once it sounds, you only have minutes to escape safely once the alarm goes off. Go outside to the meeting place, making sure it’s a safe distance from the home. Make sure everyone knows ahead of time that’s the spot to meet.

Learn – Two ways out of every room, making sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.