National Fire Prevention Week officially kicks off on Sunday, October 7th.  The week was designated to commemorate the tragic Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.


That enormous fire changed the way that firefighters thought about fire safety. So on the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (today known as the International Fire Marshals Association), decided that the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed in a way that would help remind the public about the importance of fire prevention.  


This year for Fire Prevention Week, dedicate a few minutes each day to making sure that your family would be safe in the event of a fire.  Here are five tips to get you started:


1. Make a plan.  Identify all possible exits and escape routes that your family could use in the event of an emergency.  


2. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and on every level of the home.  Oh, and don't forget to test those smoke alarms at least once a month.


3. Have a family meeting to go over your plan and make sure that everyone in your home understands how to get out and and what to do if there is a fire.


4. Pick a meeting spot.  If you have little kids, you need to clearly identify a spot where they should meet you after they escape from the house.  It could be a neighbor's house, your mailbox, or the stop sign down the street.  


5. Practice, practice, practice.  Yes, I know it seems a little odd to practice exiting your house when there isn't an emergency.  But actually going through the motion with your children will help them understand the plan better than simply telling them about it.  And it will also give you a chance to ensure that all exits and escape routes are clear and easily accessible.


Fore more information about National Fire Prevention Week and tips for keeping your family safe, check out the site of the National Fire Protection Association.

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