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Fire Prevention Week focuses on safety

Firefighters here are in for a very busy week as they observeFire Prevention Week Oct. 5-11 with a myriad of preventionactivities.

Firefighters will be hosting school classes, day care groups,and others with fire station tours and will also visit schoolcampuses to offer fire prevention advice and lectures.

“We try to work them in as much as we can,” said Fire Chief PaulCartwright. “We like to run fire prevention 365 days a year, but westep it up during this week.”

Although many of their activities will be focused on educatingchildren, he said, adults also need to be reminded of the importantneed of safety.

The annual state death toll from fire dropped from 105 in 1998to 82 in 2001, because of dramatic improvements in fire safetyequipment, but Cartwright said the number is still too high.

Eight of ten fires take place in the home and almost half ofthose deaths result from fires occurring between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.when most people are sleeping, according to George Dale, state firemarshal and the commissioner of insurance.

“Early warning and quick action are the keys to survival,” Dalesaid. “Having a working fire alarm installed on every level of yourhome to alert you of a possible fire and developing and practicinga home fire drill in case of an emergency can save your life.”

Since 1922, National Fire Prevention Week has been observed asan occasion to help people avoid fire-related tragedies. “When FireStrikes: Get Out Stay Out” is this year’s theme.

Cartwright said the main thing they stress with adults is toensure they have working and well-maintained smoke detectors andfire extinguishers and “know how to use them. Too many times peoplewill buy the products, but have no idea how to use them if theyneed it.”

The fire chief also suggested that home owners should examinetheir housing heater units before using them. When conducting theinspection, they should not only check the heater itself, butensure no flammables are set too close to it.

“In the summertime we have a tendency to crowd our heaters,” hesaid. “We need to make sure we move stuff back a reasonabledistance so it is out of the way.

Other tips he suggested were to inspect extension cords forsigns of wear and place candles and incense on a non-flammablesurface when burning them.

To help increase response time, Cartwright said, homeownersshould post their house number on the mailbox or in another visiblelocation.

Aside from actively patrolling the home to evaluate fireprevention, the fire chief said people should also preparethemselves mentally to keep prevention in the backs of their mindsat all times. Mental mistakes account for a lot of accidents, hesaid.

“Sometimes we just need to slow our lifestyle down a little andstop and think about what we’re doing,” Cartwright said.