According to the National Fire Protection Association, public fire departments responded to 388,500 home fires in the United States in 2003, resulting in $5.9 billion in direct property damage, 13,650 injuries, and 3,145 deaths.
In recognition of National Fire Prevention week, which takes place during the month of October, MetLife Auto & Home is offering free fire safety materials, including a coloring and activity book entitled “Learn About Fire Safety with the PEANUTS Gang” and a fire safety brochure entitled “About…Fire Safety.” They are available by calling 1-800-638-5433 (MET-LIFE).
“These materials give parents and children valuable tools to help learn the basics of fire safety,” said Bob Smith, chief claim officer at MetLife Auto & Home. “Fortunately, many fires – and fatalities – can be prevented, if the basics of fire prevention are observed. These materials help teach valuable lessons that can save lives and property, and do so using the PEANUTS characters, which have proven popularity with everyone, especially kids.”
The theme of National Fire Prevention week this year is “Use Candles with Care,” which recognizes the fact that candle fires are a growing threat to communities. In fact, over the last decade, candle fires have tripled. “People should always keep in mind that a lit candle is an open flame, which means that if left unattended, or used carelessly, candles have the potential for disaster,” said Smith.
To help reduce the potential for fire, MetLife Auto & Home also offers the following tips:
* Install smoke detectors, and be sure to change the batteries at least twice a year. It’s recommended that households have one on every level, in every bedroom, and in the halls outside of sleeping areas.
* Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the home – and know how to use it.
* Have a fire plan. Families should identify at least two different escape routes from a home, and in the event of a fire, every family member should know how to get out, as well as where to meet as a group outside.
* Don’t cut corners on heating safety. Winter’s coming, and this year especially, many people will turn to alternative heating sources. However, portable heating devices, wood stoves, or roaring fireplaces can represent fire risks, unless caution is exercised.
* During the holidays, consider fire safety when it comes to seasonal decorations. There are many ways for the holidays to go “up in smoke.” Many fires occur when decorations come in contact with a lit candle. Also, if you celebrate the season with a live Christmas tree, water it regularly, and keep it away from heat sources.
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