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October is Fire Prevention Month

October 3-9 is Fire Prevention Week, and the month as a whole is Fire Prevention Month. The week is used to educate people about fire safety. This includes testing alarms, changing batteries of smoke detectors, learning how to use a fire extinguisher, and planning escape routes for homes and buildings.

Several studies show that three of every five home fire deaths are results of non-functioning smoke detectors, and less than half of homeowners have an escape plan. The most common cause of home fires is unattended cooking.

Carbon monoxide is the top cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S., and only 47 percent of homes have a CO detector. Around 60 percent of homes with a CO detector rarely test them as often as they should.

To prevent fires from breaking out of homes, experts recommend having a smoke detector and a CO detector on every house level and in every bedroom so alarms can not be ignored. Also recommended are fire extinguishers on every level, in the kitchen and the garage.

If a fire breaks out in a home, residents should know how to operate a fire extinguisher and stay out of the house once outside. If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks the primary escape route, use a second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch. If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 911.

To prevent fires, homeowners should install smoke detectors and test them monthly and replace batteries at least once a year. Children should be taught what a fire alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear one. Households should have at least two escape plans if a fire breaks out in the home. A family emergency communications plan should ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find another. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year.