Preventing Tragedy

By: George McDonald
By: George McDonald

Fire is hot, fast and deadly. According to the United States Fire Administration, more people die in fires each year than in all natural disasters combined.

So, as part of National Fire Prevention Week, some area students are being "schooled" about fire safety and prevention.

Firefighters went from class to class at Harris Upper Elementary on Tuesday, talking to students and stressing the ten tips for fire safety.

In a fire, crawl low under the smoke. Install and maintain smoke alarms. If possible, install an automatic sprinkler system. Plan an escape, and know at least two ways out of your home. Be careful with smoking materials. Cook safely. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable objects. Keep matches and lighters out of sight. Use electricity safely. And if your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop, and roll.

"I learned not to leave nothing cooking on the stove," said one student at Harris.

"Don't put cords under a rug," said another.

"When it's smoking in the house, crawl. Stay low and go," said one student.

The students at West Lauderdale High School were also focusing on fire safety. A fire evacuation drill was conducted Tuesday morning.

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National Fire Prevention Week

  • The history of National Fire Prevention Week has it roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on Oct. 9, 1871.

  • This tragic conflagration killed some 300 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,000 structures.

  • The city of Chicago quickly rebuilt, however, and within a couple of years residents began celebrating their successful restoration to memorialize the anniversary of the fire with festivities.

  • Intending to observe the fire's anniversary with a more serious commemoration, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (FMANA), the oldest membership section of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), decided that the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.

  • When President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 4 - 10 1925, he noted that in the previous year some 15,000 lives were lost to fire in the United States.

  • Calling the loss "startling", President Coolidge's proclamation stated, "This waste results from the conditions which justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented... It is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions which have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth."

    Source: http://www.firepreventionweek.org (Fire Prevention Week Web site) contributed to this report.


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