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Preventing fires, burn is a common sense matter
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Oct. 4-10 is National Fire Prevention Week, and this year's message is "Stay Fire Smart! Don't get burned." Fire departments have observed Fire Prevention Week for some 85 years, making it the longest running public health and safety observance on record. Fire Prevention Week 2009 focuses on burn awareness and prevention, as well as keeping homes safe from the leading causes of home fires.

National Fire Prevention week can be traced back to the "Great Chicago Fire" which, on Oct. 8, 1871, killed 300 people, left 100,000 people homeless and burned some 17,000 structures. It was an event of such great magnitude that the Fire Marshals' Association of North America decided to commemorate it each year thereafter. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Oct. 4-10 as the first National Fire Prevention Week, since fires have been the cause of countless deaths and incalculable costs associated with property loss. The majority of all fires are preventable, but it requires the population to understand and practice fire prevention techniques.

Fire Prevention Week's emphasis on burn awareness and prevention arises from the fact that each year roughly 3,000 people die as a result of home fires and burns, and more than 200,000 individuals are seen in the nation's emergency rooms due to burn injuries. According to Ceres Fire Captain Mike Miller, "The most common types of burn injuries result from fire or flame burns, scalds and contact burns." Burns are painful and can result in serious scarring and even death. When we take extra caution in our homes to ensure that the curling iron is out of children's reach or pot handles are turned away from the edge of the stove, such injuries are entirely preventable. Keeping our homes safe from fire and preventing devastating burn injuries is a healthy change we can make happen."

By following simple safety rules, you can "Stay Fire Smart! Don't Get Burned."

• Keep hot foods and liquids away from tables and counter edges so they cannot be pulled or knocked over.

• Have a 3-foot "kid-free" zone around the stove.

• Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or drinking a hot beverage.

• Be careful when using things that get hot such as curling irons, oven, irons, lamps, heaters.

• Install tamper-resistant receptacles to prevent a child from sticking an object in the outlet.

• Never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle, portable heater, lit fireplace or stove, or where a hot appliance might be in use.

• Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.

• Set your hot water temperature no higher than 120 degrees.

• Install anti-scald valves on shower heads and faucets.

• Keep matches and lighters out of reach from children.

Smoke detectors are another key device to household safety and burn prevention. Be sure to outfit your home with properly-placed smoke detectors, and once installed, check them monthly and replace batteries yearly. Like any electronic device, dust and dead batteries will render smoke detectors useless. They must be kept clean - vacuum them as needed. If you have questions or need help with your smoke detectors, your local fire department can assist.

If you wish more fire prevention information, please contact your local fire department. In Ceres the number to call is (209) 538-5701. Firefighters are very prevention-minded, and they will be happy to assist you, regardless of what community you live in. In the spirit of National Fire Prevention Week, I wish you the best of luck and a safe future.