Written by Billy Hayes, CSU Vice President of Admissions, Marketing, and Outreach
If you see or hear that fire departments in your community are out visiting schools and businesses, it’s most likely because this week, October 5-11, is National Fire Prevention Week. While we should recognize fire and injury prevention every day of the year, this week has special meaning for historical reasons.
As legend has it, a small fire was started on the evening of October 8, 1871, when Mrs. Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in her barn. High winds pushed the fire across the countryside into the city of Chicago, thus becoming known as the Great Fire of Chicago. The fire raged through the night and into the next morning of October 9, where most of the damage and loss occurred. While the legend can’t be proved and there are other myths, the cow taking the blame seems to be the most entertaining. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation recognizing National Fire Prevention Day, and since 1922, the Sunday through Saturday of which October 9 falls, has been recognized as National Fire Prevention Week.
Since 1927, Fire Prevention Week has featured a annual theme to bring heightened awareness to a specific fire prevention topic. This year, it is “Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month.” Sadly enough, 3 out of 5 fire deaths occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in half. Simple things like replacing the battery in a smoke alarm every six months and having a working smoke alarm on every level of your home can save your life.
While smoke alarms are the focus of this year’s theme, the alarm is only the beginning. You should also have an escape plan of how to get out of your home should a fire occur. It’s best to have two ways out of your home, and a predetermined place for which all occupants can meet outside of the home. 9-1-1 should be activated once you’ve safely escaped, and remember to never go back in a burning building.
For more information about National Fire Prevention Week, as well as all fire safety tips, you can visit www.nfpa.org.
Watch CSU’s Fire Prevention PSA below: