Question of the Week

October 28, 2002


"Fires are very dangerous. More people die in fires than in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and all other natural disasters combined!"

"The United States has the fourth highest fire death rate of all industrialized countries (International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics 2001)....In 2000, fire departments responded to 379,500 home fires in the United States, which claimed the lives of an estimated 3,445 people and injured another 17,400. Approximately half of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms (Ahrens 2001b)..."

"Over 92 percent of dwellings have at least one smoke alarm, making them the most recognizable fire safety feature in residences. Unfortunately, they are the most under-regarded safety feature. About one third of them no longer work because people forget to test them, replace dead batteries or replace old smoke alarms....Keeping smoke alarms operating is easy. The big problem is dust that can accumulate inside the unit. Remember, air is flowing through them, and air carries dust particles. Once a year, hold a vacuum cleaner up against them to suck out any dust that may have accumulated inside the unit. If the units are battery operated, replace the batteries every year unless you have installed long-life batteries. And never install a 10-year battery in an older smoke alarm. It may leave you with an inoperable smoke alarm." alarms.

Okay, so you have a smoke alarm. You may even remember every year to change your batteries in your smoke detector when you change your clocks. Honestly, can you remember the last time anyone vacuumed it? Has an adult in the house tested it since you heard it working when you forgot about those cookies in the oven back in July? Having a fire start at home or school could be scary. The best way to avoid that fear is to prevent a fire. If a fire cannot be prevented, then the next best thing is to have it detected quickly. The sooner that fire is detected, the sooner people can get away from the danger and get help stopping the fire so as to avoid further damage.

Question of the Week:
What can children and teens do to help themselves and their families prevent fires--and be safe in the event of a fire? How can children and teens help younger siblings understand the importance of fire safety in an appropriate way that will help them to prepare without scaring them?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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