This week is Fire Prevention Week, the annual push for fire safety and awareness not only of what fire companies do but also what families can do in their homes to prevent fires and protect themselves from tragedy.
Fire Prevention Week comes to the region this year after several devastating fires with far-reaching heartbreak. In June, a family of three died in a Pottstown house fire as rescue crews tried to reach them in time. Killed were Bernadette Norton, 47, who was a beloved Reading School District elementary counselor, her husband, Joseph, and their 14-year-old son. Less than a month later, on July 18, an overnight fire killed Henry J. Fordham III, 77, the leader of the Seventh-day Adventists conference for the mid-Atlantic, and his wife, Sharon, in their Amity Township home.
In the city of Reading, Catherine M. Dingle, 32, and several of her children were trapped in their burning row home on July 29.Three people died of injuries suffered in that blaze, including 2-year-old Alza’y Torres and 9-year-old Christian Torres.
Many more fires occurred this year, and though most did not involve loss of life, the loss of a home and personal belongings is also devastating.
Fire Prevention Week is a time to draw attention to those losses as reason for preventive actions, most importantly making sure homes have working smoke detectors. The theme this year of Fire Prevention Week is “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety!” to educate everyone about the different sounds smoke and carbon monoxide alarms make.
When an alarm makes noises – a beeping sound or a chirping sound – you must take action, the National Fire Protection Association says. A beep is a sound to get out of the house and call 9-1-1. A chirp is a sound to replace the batteries in a smoke detector.
If a household includes people who are deaf or hard of hearing, devices should be installed, such as strobe lights that flash to alert people when the smoke alarm sounds. Pillow or bed shakers designed to work with a smoke alarm also can be purchased and installed.
The American Red Cross joins in the warnings: Test smoke alarms now before cold weather brings increased threat of home fires. Red Cross responds to 25% more local home fires a month in winter than in warmer seasons, according to a press release from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Red Cross.
Home fires are most common in colder months when people spend more time inside, and cooking and heating equipment are the leading causes of fire tragedies.
The Red Cross and National Fire Prevention Association join in these tips for prevention:
- Place smoke alarms on each level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
- Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms. If they’re 10 years or older, they likely need to be replaced because components such batteries can become less reliable. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
- Include at least two ways to exit every room in your home in your escape plan.
- Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.
- Tailor your escape plan to everyone’s needs in your household. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, install strobe light and bed-shaker alarms to help alert you to a fire. When practicing your plan, include any devices or people that can help you to get out safely.
If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact the Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Region for more information. Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, smoke alarm installations are limited to where they’re safe to do so. Many local fire companies also can assist with acquiring or testing smoke alarms.
During this week as many fire companies open their doors to tours and reinforce fire safety, take some time to monitor safety and preparedness in your home.The tragedies of 2021 were heartbreaking. Let’s prepare for a safer year ahead.
Source: Berkshire mont