October 7-13 is National Fire Prevention Week. It is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, and it serves as a time when the NFPA can reach out to people, especially families with children and educators, about the steps for preventing fires. The NFPA website offers a quiz and a safety checklist to help families prevent fire-related emergencies.
The week long observance marks the anniversary of Great Chicago Fire in 1871 which killed more than 250 people and destroyed more than 17,400 structures. The first proclamation was issued in 1920, and the event has been observed every year since 1922. This year's proclamation was signed on October 5. The week coincides with the National Firefighters Memorial Weekend that was celebrated October 5-7.
Each year, the week has a different theme that focuses on an aspect of fire safety. This year's theme, "Have 2 Ways Out," reinforces the idea that families should have 2 escape routes for their homes. The week also has its own mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog. Sparky, along with celebrities that included Betty White, was on hand for the Hero Dog Awards to honor canines with extraordinary accomplishments, including saving people from fires.
According to the NFPA, a home fire is reported every 85 seconds and only 1/3 of Americans have an escape plan. Working smoke alarms cut the death risk from a fire in half, so remember to check the batteries and test your smoke alarm on a regular basis.