Fire safety should always be on your mind

Freedom New Mexico

Or leaders in Washington, when not rationally discussing the issues of the day in meaningful and noncombative ways (yeah, right), frequently find time to designate or support days, weeks and months for awareness of certain causes.

While the nation’s founders would wonder what in Betsy Ross’ bonnet Congress was wasting its time on (National Alopecia Areata Awareness Week — really?), some of these weeks do serve a valid function.

This week, National Fire Prevention Week, is one of them. We must note, however, that House Resolution 1706, which is described as, “Supporting the goals and ideals of Fire Prevention Week, which begins on Oct. 3, 2010,” was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where it still awaits action. (More proof that good ideas don’t need the government’s stamp of approval for validity.)

Fire Prevention Week was established in 1922 “to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres,” according to the National Fire Prevention Association’s website. That blaze did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871, so Fire Prevention Week is held annually during the week in which Oct. 9 falls.

Across the country, firefighters this week will visit with students to reinforce lessons about fire prevention and the need to practice fire drills at school and at home.

The focus of this year’s national campaign is ensuring that smoke alarms are updated and maintained. According to the NFPA, smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire in half, and from 2003-2006, about two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

We encourage you to take time this week to check your smoke alarms to ensure they are in good working order. Mapping out routes to escape your home in case of fire and designating a family meeting place would be beneficial, as well.

Don’t wait for that resolution to emerge from the House committee before you take steps to help keep your family safe.