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UK Trauma, Safe Kids Teach Home Fire Prevention

Media Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver, 859-361-1887 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (October 06, 2008) - A pot holder too close to a lit burner or a space heater left on overnight could be all it takes to start a home fire. In fact, cooking and heating are among the leading causes of home fires in the United States, according to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

That's why the University of Kentucky Trauma Program and Safe Kids Fayette County are teaming up with NFPA from Oct. 5-11 to urge residents to "Prevent Home Fires" during Fire Prevention Week. This year's campaign focuses on the leading causes of home fires cooking, heating and electrical equipment, and smoking materials. Additionally, fire safety educators will be teaching local residents how to plan and practice escape from a home in case a fire occurs.

According to research from NFPA, more than 2,500 people died in home fires in the United States in 2006, and 12,500 were injured. Fire departments responded to 396,000 home fires, which accounted for 80% of fire-related civilian deaths and 76% of fire-related injuries that year.

"While the number of home fires is daunting, the good news is that many are easily preventable when residents take simple steps to increase their safety from fire," said Jennifer Forman, UK Trauma Outreach Coordinator. "Whether it's smoking outside the home, keeping space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, or staying in the kitchen when you are using the stovetop, there are easy things you can do to keep your home and family safe from fire."

Nationwide, every year, over 1,300 children ages 14 and under are injured in residential fires, and more than 400 die. Fire Prevention Week has been observed every year since 1922 around the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

A home fire occurs every 76 seconds. As part of this year's Fire Prevention Week, NFPA is urging families to take active measures to help prevent fire in their homes. The leading causes of fires that kill children 14 and under are heating equipment, playing with items that can ignite fire, and cooking equipment. Most fire-related fatalities are caused by smoke inhalation.

"A working smoke alarm cuts your chances of dying in a fire by about 50 percent," said Sherri Hannan, coordinator of Safe Kids Fayette County, led by Kentucky Children's Hospital. "Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside every sleeping area, and in each bedroom, and test them every month and change the batteries once a year even if they are hard-wired." Smoke alarms are also available with 10-year lithium batteries.

Do you know how to keep your home safe from fire hazards? Reviewing the following information and taking action can help you "Prevent Home Fires" during Fire Prevention Week and year-round.

  • Cooking: Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period time, turn off the stove.
  • Heating: Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Electrical: Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords; use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.
  • Smoking: If you smoke, smoke outside; wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.

Safe Kids Fayette County also reminds parents:

  • Keep matches, candles, gasoline, lighters and all other flammable materials locked away and out of children's reach and teach them never to touch these items.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in a safe location away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.
  • Keep children away from cooking and heating appliances. Never leave the kitchen while you are cooking.
  • Place space heaters at least 3 feet from curtains, papers, furniture and other flammable materials. Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Plug an electric space heater into an outlet with enough capacity. Never plug it into an extension cord.
  • Consider a home sprinkler system. The combination of smoke alarms and sprinklers can reduce your chances of dying in a fire by 82 percent.

"Plan and practice several escape routes and a safe place to meet outside," said Hannan. "Teach children never to go back into a burning building, and to call the fire department from a neighbor's home or a cell phone outside."

Fire Prevention Week is actively supported by fire departments across the country. For 85 years fire departments have observed Fire Prevention Week, making it the longest running public health and safety observance on record.


Page last updated: 11/19/2013 11:22:56 AM