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Editorial: Fire safety starts at home

With the temperature taking a downward turn, here at The Spotlight we’re turning our thoughts to fires.

Not comforting, cozy fires, unfortunately. No, we’re thinking about Fire Prevention Week, which kicks off on Oct. 9 and serves as a reminder about what we can all do to protect our families and ourselves.

Careful as you might be at home, the sad truth is that any household can fall victim to a fire. And not nearly enough of them are prepared for that eventuality, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, which runs Fire Prevention Week every year.

What is most tragic is that so many fire-related deaths are unnecessary. While some readers may feel patronized to hear the same fire safety advice over and over again, it evidently bears repeating.

The number of fire-related deaths actually rose in 2010 over the previous year, the first time the number has jumped since 2007. And while the number of home fire deaths per annum has been roughly halved since 1977, when the NFPA began surveying fire departments, the number of deaths per 1,000 fires has barely lowered at all.

So while there are fewer fires and fewer deaths, the proportion of people succumbing to house fires is about seven per 1,000 fires, or just one less than it was more than three decades ago.

These and other fascinating facts are contained in an annual report recently released by the NFPA.

“With home fire deaths still accounting for 2,640 fire deaths … fire safety initiatives targeted at the home remain the key to any reductions in the overall fire death toll,” the report reads.

The message is quite clear. Despite the vigilance and efforts of our fire departments, which through advances in technology and best practices are ever improving their performance, it’s still true that the most important safety measures are taken in the home.

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