Fire Prevention Month started as Fire Prevention Week in 1925 when President Calvin Coolidge signed the Presidential proclamation making it a National Observance. As a nation, we acknowledge Fire Prevention Week every year from October 9th to October 15th, and we observe it on this particular week to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that happened in October 1871. According to the Chicago Architecture Center, “the fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of the city including over 17,000 structures, and left more than 100,000 residents homeless”.
The most devastating fact is the Chicago fire was completely preventable, or at least manageable with proper fire safety. There are many theories on how the fire actually started, but the most common theory is it started from accidentally knocking over a lantern in a local barn.
The goal of Fire Prevention Month is to educate individuals on the danger of fire as well as how to stay safe in the event of a fire.
Every year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a theme for Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape”, so there is an emphasis on how to get out of your house safely in the event of a fire. Realistically, you have less than two minutes to get out of your home safely after the sound of the smoke alarm.
How to Prepare Your Household in the Event of a Fire
While we hope a fire never happens in your home, there are some safety things you can do to prepare your family in case a fire ever happens. These simple tasks can help you and your family escape quickly when there’s a fire in your home.
- Home Escape Plan– Make sure you and your family know two ways to get out of every room and make sure your home escape plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
- Smoke Alarms– Make sure your smoke alarms are tested monthly with smoke and the batteries are changed 2 times per year. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home. Dual smoke alarms should be used in the bedroom areas, and Photoelectric smoke alarms should be used in the kitchen/family room. Learn more about types of smoke alarms here.
- Meeting Place– Agree on an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet. Avoid standing near your mailbox because the Fire Department will be looking for your address on your mailbox.
- Practice makes perfect- practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household. Practice at least once during the day and at night.
Teaching Children About Fire Safety
Teaching children about fire safety is relatively easy, and it prepares them to remain calm and confident in the event of a real fire. Kids learn best through interactive and engaging teaching, so figure out a way to get the students involved by giving them a “role” or a job to do in the event of a fire. Even if the job is to get out to the meeting spot as fast as they can, this idea of a “role” teaches them that they are important and needed in an emergency, and they are more likely to remain calm if they have a purpose and a role to play in helping others.
When teaching children about fire safety, keep it simple! Don’t overcomplicate it. It’s best to use objects and books that students are familiar with anyway, so use the resources you currently have in your classroom! Objects such as books, play phones, puppets, and dress-up clothes are perfect to use in a creative lesson on Fire Safety. Make sure to keep your language positive throughout your teaching by telling students what they should do instead of what they shouldn’t do. Avoid phrases like “Don’t play with matches”. Instead, use phrases such as “Fire is a tool for adults” or “If you see matches, tell a grown-up.”
The NFPA has excellent resources and full lesson plans to help in educating children about fire safety. Here’s a link for their 10-minute, 30-minute, or hour lesson plans.
View all of our Fire Safety resources here. Also, check out these videos below to help you come up with some great ideas for your classroom.
Need to Take Fire Safety In Georgia?
We have in person and online options to get Fire Safety certified in Georgia. If you would like to host a Fire Safety class, click here. If you would like to join a class or sign up your team for an online or in person class, click here.