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Allen Erkhart: Fire Prevention Week starts Sunday

Americus Fire & Emergency Services personnel are proud to participate in the Annual Fire Prevention Week, sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Here in Americus, we observe fire prevention for the entire month of October.  Partnering with our local Sumter County Schools district, we read books for Head Start, Early Head Start, pre-K and kindergarten students. Kindergarten and first-grade students go through our Fire Safety House, where they learn about fire safety in the home, such as “Don’t play with matches or lighters,” “The kitchen is no place to play,” “Have two ways out,” and “Stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire.” Second-graders through fourth-graders enjoy our Clown Shows, which re-emphasize the safety themes taught in previous years.

History of Fire Prevention Week
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and, since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which Oct. 9 falls, commemorating the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The president of the United States has signed a proclamation for a national observance during that week every year since 1925.

Install fire alarms for protection
The key message of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign is to install smoke alarms outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement. Larger homes may need more alarms. Did you know that roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep? Smoke alarms save lives. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. In fact, having working smoke alarms cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half!

Test your alarms for life
Your smoke alarm has the power to save your life. Or does it? If you haven’t tested your smoke alarm lately, it may not be working, and that’s a risk you can’t afford to take. Working smoke alarms give us early warning of a fire, providing extra time to escape safely. They can’t do their job if we haven’t done ours — monthly testing to make sure they are working. Test all of the smoke alarms in your home. When you change your clocks, change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
If you don’t have smoke alarms in your home and live within the Americus city limits, call the Americus Fire & Emergency Services at 924-3213 or 924-1385 and we will schedule a time to come and install them for you.

Chief Allen Erkhart has been with the Americus Fire Department for 42 years.