October 7, 2016

Fire safety is important every day of the year, at home and on our jobsites.

The longest running public health and safety observance on record, Fire Prevention Week began in 1922, and has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls since then, aiming to educate citizens with the information they need to prevent death, injury, property and economic loss caused by fires.   

145 years ago from October 8-9, 1871, what is now known as the Great Chicago Fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres, forever changing the way that firefighters, public officials and citizens thought about fire safety.

Smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years. (Image courtesy National Fire Protection Association)

Fire safety begins at home. Being informed about the basics could make a difference in protecting you wherever you are – at home, school or work. Below are a few fire safety tips:

  • Check your smoke detector battery: Three out of five home fire deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, or no functioning smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half, but when they fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are disconnected or dead. Replace your smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Have an escape plan: Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep. Have an escape plan that includes: two different ways out, someone assigned to help those that need help getting out, someone assigned to call 911 and a safe meeting place outside of the house.
  • Cook with care: Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment. Never leave cooking unattended, wear clothes with short, rolled-up or tight-fitting sleeves and turn pot/pan handles inward on the stove so they can’t be accidentally bumped.  
  • Heat with caution: Just over half of home heating fire deaths result from fires caused by heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses or bedding. Keep portable heaters and space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn; unplug them when not in use.
  • Use electricity safely:  Failures or malfunctions in wiring, cords, lighting and other electrical equipment caused an estimated 44,900 home fires in 2013, resulting in 410 deaths and $1.3 billion in direct property damage. Avoid using extension cords when possible, never run them under rugs or carpet and replace and frayed or cracked extension cords. Don’t tamper with your fuse box of use improper-size fuses.

Fires are fast-moving and ever-changing situations, so practice, be prepared and communicate with your loved ones. Safety is a value at DPR, and we want each and every employee to stay safe wherever they are – whether it’s at home or on the jobsite.

More detailed fire safety tips can be found at the National Fire Protection Association.

*All statistics courtesy National Fire Protection Association