Don’t be caught unprepared

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, October 4, 2008

National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11 and this year’s theme is straightforward – “Prevent Home Fires.”

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 3,430 civilian fatalities and 17,675 civilian injuries occurred as the result of fire in 2007. Additionally, the direct property loss was an estimated $14.6 billion, and the majority of these losses and injuries occurred in home fires.

Clanton Fire Chief Ashley Teel indicated most home fires are easily preventable with the regular maintenance of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, coupled with preparedness.

“A smoke detector is the cheapest life insurance you can buy,” Teel said, adding that a surprising number of homes have smoke detectors that are inoperable.

Teel recommends checking smoke detectors twice a year and replacing batteries once a year. A good rule of thumb is to inspect them every time the time changes in the spring and fall.

In addition, the NFPA minimum requirements say homeowners shouldn’t have to travel more than 75 feet to reach a fire extinguisher.

“Have a plan where to meet [outside] in case you were to have a fire,” Teel added. “Have a portable fire extinguisher handy. Check it, look at the gauge and make sure it’s charged up.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health recommends the following safety tips to prevent home fires:

Never smoke in bed

Keep lighters and matches away from children

Never leave food on the stove unattended

Never throw water on a burning pot; cover with a lid and smother the fire

Keep items at least three feet from space heaters

Clean fire places yearly

Do not use items with damaged cords or wiring

Do not overload outlets

–Scott Mims can be reached at