With this being Fire Prevention Week, many area fire departments are hosting programs to observe it.

Volunteer firefighters spend countless hours training, raising funds, and responding to emergencies. This week many are taking the time to visit schools and hosting open house programs to educate the public on fire prevention.

Although Fire Prevention Week is for education purposes, fire prevention itself is something we have to practice at all times.

Obviously what we are shown at the Fire Prevention Week programs are just the basics of fire prevention. There are so many areas of fire prevention that it would be impossible to go over all of them.

For the most part, fire prevention comes down mostly to common sense.

Here are some of the things you can do to protect yourself and your family:

Ÿ Make sure your chimney is cleaned regularly. Even individuals who burn oil and gas periodically must have their chimneys checked.

Ÿ Take care of your electric wiring, especially if extension cords are involved. Extension cords are a common cause of house fires, either by them getting worn or by overloads placed on them.

Ÿ Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in every bedroom. Smoke alarms can be battery-operated or electrically hard-wired in your home and are available at a variety of price points. If you have hearing problems, use alarms with flashing strobe lights and vibration. Test smoke alarms every month. Replace batteries once a year, even if alarms are hard-wired.

Ÿ Plan and practice several escape routes and a safe place to meet outside. Plan and practice two escape routes out of each room of the house. It is important to have an alternate escape route in case one is blocked by fire. Have a designated person to help young children and others who might have difficulty escaping.

There are many other valuable fire prevention tips you can learn just by visiting your fire department if they are hosting an open house program.

Also, consider giving financial support to your local fire department. Apparatus, gear, and maintenance is very expensive. Hopefully, you'll never have to use the services of your local volunteers, but thankfully they're there if you need them.

Fire Prevention Week is something many people take for granted. There's an announcement each year that we're observing it. Programs are held in many communities.

The truth is, Fire Prevention Week is not just for children. It's for everyone the year round.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com