October 7-October 13, 2018, is Fire Prevention Week in the U.S. Each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sponsors the week and provides information to the public to help everyone understand the causes of fire, how to protect themselves and their loved ones from fire-related tragedies, and how to prevent fires.

This year’s NFPA campaign theme

This year’s fire prevention week campaign is “Look. Listen. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The NFPA’s goal is to educate the public as to how to reduce the potential for a fire and how to safely escape if one should happen.

Look for places where fires could start. Identify potential hazards around your home and office and address them.

Listen for the smoke alarm and act immediately. Relatedly, ensure that your smoke alarms are functioning properly.

Learn at least two ways out of every room in your home and office, and ensure all windows and doors leading outside are in good working order and free from clutter.

Fire statistics

Children under age five and adults over 65 have the greatest risk for injury or death in a fire; however, everyone can be vulnerable. In fact, those between 20 and 49 years of age have the highest risk for a nonfatal fire injury. Other contributing risk factors include education level, geographic location, race, and socioeconomic status. Thus, the NFPA seeks to raise awareness to everyone in order to protect themselves and their loved ones in the case of a fire.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there has been a downward trend in fires, fire-related injuries, dollar losses, and fatalities. Between 2007 and 2016, the fire-related death rate decreased 15.8 percent. This includes a 43 percent decrease in fire-related fatalities among children 14 years of age and younger and a 19 percent decline in fire-related deaths for individuals age 65 and older.

History

The NFPA has sponsored Fire Prevention Week since 1922, and in 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, thus making it the longest-running public health observance in the U.S.

The week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which destroyed nearly 2,000 acres, killed as many as 300 people, left more than 100,000 homeless, destroyed 17,500 building, and caused $222 million in property damage.

Causes of fires

The NFPA identifies the causes of fires. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and related injuries followed by heating equipment. As for home fire deaths, smoking is the primary cause.

Other causes include intentional fires (arson) including those set by children, unattended candles, heating malfunctions, and those caused by faulty electrical appliances or circuits. The winter months and holidays are at an especially high risk for many of these dangers.

Why is fire prevention so important?

During a fire, seconds can mean the difference between safety and tragedy. Everyone is at risk during a fire; however, children and the elderly carry a greater risk. By promoting fire safety to everyone, we can ensure that everyone understands its importance.

The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should not read this article to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken to you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which you may have a case.