Our View: Assess risks, make safety plans this week

In the U.S., fire departments responded to an average of one home fire every 86 seconds.

Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 358,500 home structure fires per year, causing 12,300 injuries, 2,510 deaths and $6.7 billion in damage.

On average, seven people per day die in U.S. home fires, with cooking being the leading cause of home fires and injuries.

Fire are something that are easily preventable in most cases, but can have tragic results.

The key to prevention is education, which is why each year, a week is set aside in October to raise awareness and educate the public about how to prevent fires and how to respond in fire emergencies.

This year, National Fire Prevention Week is observed Oct. 7-13.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, “The purpose of Fire Prevention Week is to bring awareness to the risk of death in case of a fire and provide educational resources to people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status in order to keep everyone safe.”

This year’s campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” aims to educate people about three basic but essential steps to take to reduce the likelihood of having a fire –– and how to escape safely in the event of one: Look, listen and learn.

The NFPA offers these tips this year.

— Look: Look for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.

— Listen: Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm. You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.

— Learn: Learn two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

In a fire, seconds of time can be the difference between life or death. While fire prevention and education efforts are often directed at children, and children younger than 5 and adults older 65 are at the highest risk for injury or death in a fire, people of all ages are vulnerable.

The NFPA reports that the risk of a nonfatal fire injury is highest for those between 20 and 49, showing that fire safety education is essential for everyone.

This week, take the take to assess your home for risks. Also educate your family members about an escape plan. Most importantly, check your smoke alarms and replace the batteries if needed.

Just a few steps for prevention can help saves lives and property. This week serves as a good reminder to take these steps.