Learn not to burn

This week is National Fire Prevention Week — a time set aside to honor our firefighters and review fire safety procedures.

Sponsored annually by the National Fire Protection Association, this year’s theme is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” This theme highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire: Look for places fire could start. listen for the sound of the smoke alarm and learn two ways out of every room.

NFPA statistics show that the number of home fires in the United States has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1,000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.

“These numbers show that while we’ve made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there’s still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “This is particularly critical given the increased speed at which today’s home fires grow and spread.”

Carli also notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place they are at greatest risk, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.

Everyone needs to plan an escape route from their home in the event of a fire and practice using it periodically. And, while we’re practicing fire safety, let’s not forget to show our appreciation for our local firefighters.

In Columbiana County, most of our firefighters are volunteers, which means they get paid very little or nothing for responding to citizens’ emergencies. The majority of them have other jobs, but they drop what they are doing without question every time the alarm summons them.

If you haven’t thanked a firefighter lately, this week would be a good time to do so. We applaud the efforts of all of our firefighters and pray that they are kept safe as they place themselves in harm’s way protecting our lives and property.