Fire preparation should be simple

Published 7:57 pm Friday, October 8, 2010

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 1,348,500 fires reported in the United States in 2009.

The good news is that equals 7 percent fewer fires than in 2008.

The catastrophic news is that 3,010 civilians lost their lives in these fires, and 17,050 civilians were injured. Furthermore, 82 firefighters lost their lives protecting the public. Each death cut short a human life and left family and friends grieving. Each injury changed a life, whether only for a few days or for the rest of their life.

The human toll is only part of what the association deems the “U.S. Fire Problem.” In 2009, fires caused $12.5 billion in property damage. There is likely no telling how many taxpayer dollars were spent fighting the blazes.

While any loss of life is far more important than the spent money or lost property, many of these deaths, injuries, lost property and lost money were likely preventable. In many cases, perhaps, even the fires that led to them could have been avoided with healthy doses of education and caution.

That’s the purpose for the annual National Fire Prevention Week, a publicity effort undertaken by the association and promoted by fire departments and other organizations across the country. This year’s theme — “Smoke Alarms: A sound we can live with” — promotes one of the simplest and most effective tools available to help prevent injuries and deaths from structure fires. An escape plan also can help save lives when employed properly.

In the News-Herald this week, we have worked with the Suffolk fire marshal’s office to bring you information you can use to prevent fires and learn how to escape in case of a fire. If you missed any of it, visit www.nfpa.org to learn more. There’s simply no excuse for not being properly prepared — especially when the preparation is so simple, and the lives it will save are those closest to you.