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National Fire Prevention WeekThe week of Oct. 3 – 9 is National Fire Prevention Week, and this year’s motto is “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With.” National Fire Prevention Week is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). National Fire Prevention Week was launched in remembrance of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. 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. U.S. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week in 1925.

The purpose of this year’s motto is to educate people about the importance of smoke alarms and encourage everyone to take the steps necessary to update and maintain their home smoke alarm protection. According to the NFPA, 2,755 people were killed and 13,160 were injured in home fires in 2008. Three out of every five home fire deaths were in a home with either no smoke alarms or where the smoke alarms were not working. In cases where the smoke alarms were not working, either batteries were missing or the detector was disconnected. NFPA states that when used properly, smoke alarms can reduce by half the risk of dying in a fire.

NFPA recommends that smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home (including the basement), outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. Never remove or disable fire alarms. In addition, interconnected smoke alarms are highly recommended. An interconnected alarm system provides an earlier warning when there is a fire because all of the alarms are linked together so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound. Test smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button. If an alarm “chirps” warning the battery is low, replace the battery as soon as possible. All smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and those that are hard-wired alarms, should be replaced when they’re 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.

For more information, visit NFPA’s Fire Prevention website.