Falling leaves, fire trucks

The crisp fall air is full of many things. This week we felt the first chill of the coming winter. Leaves have begun their seasonal journey to the ground. The scent of morning coffee beckons equally as warm-up and beverage.

The fall air is full of another thing as well: the sound of racing fire trucks. As we make the change from summer cooling to winter heating, the autumnal heater fire season has already been inaugurated. Given that Pine Bluff has an aging housing stock — many of which still use antiquated and potentially unsafe heaters, we should be especially cognizant of fire dangers.

As such, it is fitting that we note the annual observance of National Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13. National Fire Prevention Week is an annual public awareness campaign to promote fire safety throughout the nation. “Have 2 Ways Out!” is this year’s theme — with a focus on the importance of fire escape planning and practice.

Developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the goal of National Fire Prevention Week is to educate families on the causes of home fires, fire prevention and how to react in an emergency. NFPA has been the official sponsor of this campaign since 1922, making it the country’s longest running public health and safety observance on record.

To kick off the week, Russell Fleming, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), said in a press release: “National Fire Prevention Week is critical in educating the public about the dangers of fire and how to protect themselves and their families. Fire sprinklers play a key role in protecting people and firefighters from the tragedies that fire can cause. To date, there has never been a multiple loss-of-life in a home that has a properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler system. I urge the public to learn more about how they can prevent and protect themselves and their families from the dangers of fire.”

Short of installing a whole-house sprinkler system, there are many things you can do to protect your home from the threat of fire and to increase your chances for survival if one should erupt. NFSA provides the following fire safety tips for families:

Make an escape plan.

Install smoke detectors in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and check the batteries often.

Once you’re out, stay out! Do not re-enter a burning building.

Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year.

NFSA also has a special list aimed at younger family members:

Never touch matches, candles or lighters. Make sure you tell an adult immediately if you see matches or a lighter in a room.

Don’t cook alone.

Remind your parents to turn pot handles toward the center of the stove.

Never stick anything in an electric socket.

Never hang anything on a lamp, heater or radiator.

Always let an adult know if there is any kind of smoke or fire in your house.

If there is a fire, get out fast.

Once you are out of the house, call 9-1-1 immediately.

In case of fire, develop an escape plan with your parents. Plan for two possible escape routes out of your house. Practice your escape plan with your parents several times a year.

Stay low to the floor when escaping a fire, as smoke rises and makes it difficult to see.

For more information on National Fire Prevention Week and local events in your area, visit www.NFPA.org.