Hotoberfest event promotes fire safety
Maj. Gen. James M. Milano is Fort Jackson's commanding general.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson is getting ready for its fifth annual "Hotoberfest" and fire station open house to promote fire prevention and safety. Each year Directorate of Emergency Services and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation organize an open house and carnival that are as educational as they are entertaining. This year's events, which will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday at the fire station, will not disappoint.

The fire department's open house and FMWR's Hotoberfest will kick off National Fire Prevention Week for the Fort Jackson community. This year, fire prevention week runs from Oct. 9 through Oct. 15. The theme for National Fire Prevention Week 2011 is, "Protect your family from fire," which focuses on teaching families about the causes of house fires, how to prevent them from happening and what to do in the event of a fire.

Fire safety is neither a one-day nor a one-week event. Fire safety is something that we need to completely comprehend and practice year round. It's a very serious topic and a subject that calls for continuous awareness and periodic inspections. The stark reality is that each year, nearly 3,000 people in the United States die in house fires. This past year, that number went up. According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires were responsible for 3,120 deaths in 2010. NFPA also reported that approximately 85 percent of all fire deaths occurred in the home and 384,000 fires -- or 80 percent of all structural fires -- occurred in residential properties.

The encouraging news is that many fires like these can be prevented. One of the best prevention devices found in the home is the smoke alarm. However, smoke alarms need to be maintained, and we need to make sure that we know and rehearse what actions to take if the alarm sounds. Smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death. It is critical that they are functioning should a fire break out. Functioning smoke alarms reduce the odds of dying in a fire by 50 percent. That's an important statistic and something that we need to remember when we are forced to replace a battery or two at an inconvenient time.

In addition, smoke alarms must be located on every level within the home, outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. If a smoke alarm is older than 10 years old, it is no longer effective and needs to be replaced with a new one. In order to ensure that smoke alarms are working properly, we need to test them at least once a month to make sure the batteries are good and if an alarm begins to chirp, replace the battery immediately. Also, never remove or disable a smoke alarm.

Housing residents on Fort Jackson should contact Balfour Beatty if they have any concerns about their alarms.

I encourage you to spend some time at the fire department open house and Hotoberfest and make yourself familiar with some of the ways that you can practice good fire safety. In the meantime, make sure everyone in your home knows how to respond if a smoke alarm sounds.

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Page last updated Thu October 6th, 2011 at 08:01