Every October, we observe Fire Prevention Month as an opportunity to highlight the ways you and your family can stay safe from fires. As we kick off this important annual event, let's take a brief look at the history of Fire Prevention Month and how you can participate in your own household. With a few basic steps, this October can be your chance to do what it takes to help ensure that a fire never harms you, your loved ones, or your property.
What Is Fire Prevention Month?
The history of Fire Prevention Month begins with the infamous Great Chicago Fire of October 1871. In the wake of this citywide blaze, over 250 people had been killed and more than 100,000 were left homeless. As a result, people soon began creating fire awareness campaigns and sharing fire prevention tips during October, in remembrance of the fire that nearly destroyed an entire city.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson declared National Fire Prevention Day, and five years later he declared Fire Prevention Week as a national observance. Over the years, this grew to encompass the entire month of October, with the National Fire Protection Association taking a leading role in organizing and sponsoring a month's worth of fire prevention tips for schools, families and individuals.
How Do Fires Start at Home?
Legend claims that the Great Chicago Fire started in a barn when a cow kicked over a lantern. A barn isn't exactly a house and the cow's owner, Catherine O'Leary, refuted the story, but it just goes to show that mundane occurrences can lead to severe fires. The seasonally dry weather and a city full of wooden buildings conspired for disaster, too, and the real start of the fire was never determined for sure.
Fire Prevention Month is about making sure that you stay aware of how easily fires can start. Take a look at our fire safety and prevention checklist for common risk factors and how you can avoid them. Whether it's a cow kicking over a lantern or kitchen towel left too close to a stovetop, you don't want to risk losing everything over carelessness.
What Fire Prevention Tips Work for Families?
Practicing fire safety at home involves the right mix of prevention, planning and action. Take the opportunity this October to get everyone in your household involved in being better prepared to avoid and react to fires. Here are a few tips to get your family started:
- Teach kids to stay away from fire at home. You have more fire sources in your home than you might realize. Stoves, grills, candles, lighters and matches – to name just a few – can all cause trouble if mishandled. Make sure everyone knows that flame sources are for adults only.
- Encourage talking about fire. Explain in age-appropriate terms what might happen if little ones break the rules. Encourage them to calmly and immediately tell you if someone breaks fire safety rules. It's important for everyone to know how serious a danger fire is.
- Check your alarms, sprinklers, and extinguishers. Older kids can help test smoke alarms and use fire extinguishers. Make sure everyone knows where fire extinguishers are located, and keep their storage spaces clear of debris. Be sure they're stored within reach and will be visible and accessible if a fire breaks out.
Preventing fires at home is important year-round, but Fire Prevention Month serves as a great reminder that simple steps can make a big difference in keeping your family safe. Use these tips to make sure everyone knows the importance of fire safety at home, and don't hesitate to contact ServiceMaster Restore® if your home is affected by fire or smoke damage. Have a safe October!