Mehlville fire district urges citizens to ‘Prevent Home Fires’

The Mehlville Fire Protection District is urging south county residents to “Prevent Home Fires” during Fire Prevention Month, according to a news release.

This year’s campaign focuses on preventing all the leading causes of home fires — cooking, heating and electrical equipment, and smoking materials. Additionally, fire-safety educators will teach local residents how to plan and practice home exit drills in case a fire occurs.

“While the number of home fires is daunting, the good news is that many are easily preventable when residents take simple steps to increase their safety from fire,” Chief Jim Silvernail stated. “Whether it’s smoking outside the home, keeping space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, or staying in the kitchen when you are using the stovetop, there are easy things you can do to keep your home and family safe from fire.”

More than 2,500 people died in home fires in the United States during 2006 and 12,500 were injured, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fire departments responded to 396,000 home fires, which accounted for 80 percent of civilian deaths and 76 percent of injuries that year.

MFPD officials suggest the following:

• Cooking: Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food.

• Heating: Keep all things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture at least three feet away from heating equipment.

• Electrical: Replace cracked and damaged electrical cords; use extension cords for temporary wiring only. Consider having additional circuits or receptacles added by a qualified electrician.

• Smoking: If you smoke, smoke outside; wherever you smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays.

Fire Prevention Month was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that killed more than 250 people.

For 85 years, fire departments have ob-served Fire Prevention Month, making it the longest running public health and safety observance on record.