ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
In the five years from 2000 through 2004, 41 Kansas children age 14 and under died in residential fires and 272 were hospitalized. There is no better reason to recognize Oct. 8-14 as Fire Prevention Week-and to take its objectives seriously. Fire Prevention Week has been observed every year since 1922 around the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
According to Safe Kids Kansas, 89 percent of all fire-related deaths to Kansas children occur in the home-and yet only one out of four families say they have developed and practiced a fire escape plan, according to Jan Stegelman, coordinator.
“Plan two ways out of every room and practice an escape plan monthly when you test your smoke alarm,” she says. “Designate a safe place to meet outside in the event of a fire emergency. Teach children never to go back into a burning building, even for a pet or favorite toy. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside.”
For those of us who have been made aware of Fire Prevention Week for so many years, these tips seem routine. But here’s the clincher: Have you implemented them in your home? -DR