It seems every week or month there is some sort of special designation National Blueberry Month, International Magic Week, National Humor Month, etc.

Two of the most important designations occur this week: National Fire Prevention Week and National Newspaper Week. Both are worthy of being observed.

For National Fire Prevention Week, it's a time to make us aware of potential fire hazards in our homes: extension cords that need replacements, smoke detectors that need new batteries, hallways that need cleaning to prevent potential tragedy in the event of a fire.

With fire prevention also comes the profound respect for our local firefighters; who, incidentally, are all volunteers. These volunteers spend countless hours training, responding to calls any time of the day or night in any kind of weather, and sacrificing family time to protect us. In the event of emergency, they put their lives on the line, doing a job in which there is no monetary compensation. In addition to this, they do much of their own fundraising to buy the equipment they needed just so they can be volunteers.

Don't take Fire Prevention Week for granted. Take your children to one of many programs being held by volunteer firefighters on fire safety. Do a check around your house for potential fire hazards.

In 2010, 3,445 Americans died from fires. Over 75 percent of them occur in residential buildings. Most of these fires could have been prevented. Faulty wiring or bad extension cords is the number one cause of residential fires.

Be aware of fire safety. Help others in your family also learn the importance of it.

Regarding National Newspaper Week, there are some naysayers who are calling newspapers "dinosaurs."

The reason is that people compare them to digital delivery of information and it just isn't the same.

If you're doing research on a specific topic, want to read about news in Houston or Anchorage, or merely exchange thoughts on one of the many social media sites, then the Internet is for you.

For local news and information, there's nothing like your daily newspaper. In one package delivered to your door you get to see what happened at your local borough council or school board meeting, obituaries, comics, sports scores and information, classified advertising including legal notices, puzzles, and lifestyle news.

The staffs at all local newspapers work hard to assure you are getting local "news." Turn on the network TV news and you'll find out about the chemical weapons in Syria, the wildfires in California, the happenings with Miley Cyrus, and other big news from around the globe.

Local newspapers, such as the TIMES NEWS, is your only real source of local news. No other media has a daily compilation of obituaries. You don't find local fire coverage, coverage of fairs and festivals, feature stories on local topics, or police department coverage including safety warnings anywhere else.

Of course, in local newspapers, you'll also find ads from local businesses.

When a controversy occurs in the community, especially one involving tax dollars or safety concerns, the daily newspaper keeps you informed.

National Newspaper Week reminds us of one more thing:

One of the greatest freedoms in America is the free press.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com