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From Preparedness Month to Fire Prevention Week

September is National Preparedness Month in which residents are encouraged to plan ahead and take precautions against a myriad of hazards. From having an evacuation bag, to stocking up on batteries and food in case of power outages, to preparing your animals for storms and evacuations, the messages are clear – disasters can happen, and you can be ready to respond.

NFPA's preparedness page offers up key information and actions people can take to prepare to respond quickly and safely in the event of natural disasters and home fires. The “Preparedness” discussion often leads to the question – “what’s the difference between preparedness and prevention?”  Preparedness is a measure of prevention – by planning for worst case scenario – wildfire, hurricane, home fire, and the like.  It’s the work you do to assure you and your family can respond quickly and safely.  A classic example is having a Home Fire Escape Plan.

Prevention is a broader term which encompasses preparedness and includes taking all available actions to prevent the hazard/emergency. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme from NFPA, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” encourages people to engage in the preparedness level of prevention by recognizing the sounds of their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, and taking appropriate action to be prepared in case of home fire or CO exposure.  From beeps to chirps, to testing monthly, to installing strobe lights and bed shakers, this year’s theme is all about making a plan to maintain and respond appropriately to their alarms. 

Now in it’s 99th year, Fire Prevention Week, celebrated October 3 – 9 (and really all month long) offers Fire and Life Safety Educators and Injury Prevention Professionals information, resources and tools to support teaching people a critical preparedness lesson – that of responding to the sounds of their smoke and CO alarms. Check out the Fire Prevention Week Toolkit and resources for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and use the #FirePreventionWeek when celebrating this year.

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Andrea Vastis
Senior Director, Public Education, public health promotion & education professional passionate about eliminating disparities in access, education and resources.

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