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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Oct 7, 2008

We salute firefighters everywhere who are ready to jump into action and put their lives in jeopardy to save others.

October is National Fire Prevention Month and the history of its origin is stoked in the historical facts surrounding the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 8, 1871. This catastrophe was ignited in or near a barn owned by the O’Leary family and burned through many structures over a period of time.

Whether this event was caused by dry conditions, weather conditions, human error or a combination of all three, a push for fire prevention awareness has been a goal of firefighters ever since. There are many safeguards and precautions to take to avoid causing fires which can quickly ravage lives and property.

Every home and business should be equipped with several smoke detectors in hallways and rooms. We recommend each smoke detector be checked weekly. Pick a day and time to conduct these checks and stick to it! Make it a practice to change the battery as needed, or at least once a year. A good time to remember this chore is on the very night we put the clocks back an hour at the end of October or early November.

Each household should develop a planned escape route from the home with every occupant fully aware of the procedure. Make sure to practice this periodically with members of your family so the routes are deeply imbedded in memory. Each plan must include:

n Two different exit routes.

n A specific person whose task is to call 911.

n Another person who will help with the evacuation of every family member.

n A pre-determined meeting place where the family will congregate after evacuating.

Always keep matches and lighters away from children. Make sure your home is equipped with a working fire extinguisher. Those who smoke must always use a proper ash tray and keep a watchful eye on the burning cigarette at all times.

In the kitchen, make it a habit to stay near the boiling pot or cooking oven. The cook should wear short, rolled-up or tight-fitting sleeves. Have the accompanying lids available on the counter for each pot or pan being used. Remove all combustible items from the cooking area. Make sure to turn handles on pots and pans inward to avoid an accident. Small children should be kept away from the cooking area.

While extension cords are handy, avoid overuse. Never place these cords under rugs or carpeting. Always replace frayed and cracked cords. Never tamper with the fuse box or use improper-size fuses.

If a fire breaks out, exit the structure quickly and never re-enter. Never open an interior door before feeling it with the back of your hand for heat. Open it slowly and be ready to close it if heat or fire is right outside. Call 911 quickly. If the unthinkable happens and clothing ignites, REMEMBER TO STOP, DROP and ROLL until the fire is extinguished. Try to cover your face with your hands.

We hope that being safe and taking precautions is all the safeguards we will ever need to avoid a devastating fire.

Ultimately the life you spare may be your own.