Did you know that on average, seven people die in the United States from house fires every day? Or, that the leading cause of home fire deaths are fires that originated by smoking materials (cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays), in a bedroom, living room, family room, or den. On average, 3 out of every 5 fire deaths occur in a residence with no smoke alarms, or in a residence in which alarms are present but are not operable. Often times, these inoperable smoke alarms fail to alert residents due to batteries that are missing, disconnected, or dead.
During the week of October 8-14, the member departments of the Meigs County Firefighter’s Association will be conducting Fire Prevention Week activities at Eastern, Meigs, and Southern Elementary buildings. This year’s fire prevention week theme is, “Every Second Counts, Plan 2 Ways Out!” This theme encourages home owners to plan two exits for residents in the event of a house fire. By developing two exits from a residence, citizens give themselves two potential escapes in the event of a fire. According to a National Fire Protection Association survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. This same survey notes that three-quarters of Americans have a fire escape plan; however, less than half have actually practiced it. Firefighters from across Meigs County will be spreading the same message across all three local school districts: implement and practice your home fire escape plan as well as conducting monthly smoke detector tests. Smoke detector batteries should be changed no less than 2 times per year. It has been proven that a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in reported house fires in half. As a firefighter and member of the community, I urge all citizens to ensure that your residence has working smoke detectors and that you have practiced your home fire escape plan.
Finally, I encourage all citizens to support your local fire departments. Many of the materials distributed to your students during Fire Prevention Week are purchased using funds collected from chicken bbqs, fish frys, baskets bingos, boot drives, raffles, ice cream socials and various other fund raisers conducted throughout the year. The fire safety items are given out in an effort to create discussion between students and parents. It is our hope that the children are able to come home and encourage their guardians to create a fire escape plan and to test their smoke detectors once a month. Remember that the life that you safe might be your own or somebody that you love.
Derek Miller is president of the Meigs County Firefighter’s Association and a member of the Pomeroy Fire Department.