Fire Prevention Week dates back to 1925, when President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it a national observance. This became the longest-running public health observance in the country. It’s a commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has been a sponsor of this week since 1922! Firefighters provide life-saving public education in an effort to decrease casualties caused by fire. A few of the most important messages they teach include:

  • Make and practice a fire escape plan. (Can you actually open those windows?)
  • If you see smoke or fire, or if you’re told to leave, LEAVE NOW.
  • Test your smoke alarms monthly.
  • Don’t leave the kitchen while cooking. Thanksgiving is the leading day for fires involving cooking equipment.
  • Make sure you have a three-foot “safe zone” around any space heaters. That means kids as well as anything that can burn.
  • If a wildfire is threatening your home, have pre-packed kits (“Go Bags”) with medicine, family records, credit cards, food and water. Include a plan and supplies for your pets. If told to evacuate, go promptly. DO NOT DAWDLE and think of what you might want to take, or you may not have the chance.

Do you need activities to help kids understand the importance of these ideas? Check out Sparky.org and the Sparky School House.

Here’s a quick overview for the biggest kids. Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape!