IN THE SAME BOAT: a blog for Scouts BSA parents (subscribe)
(updated September 22, 2020)
While it might be fun, today's post is not going to be about how a heart on fire with love can cause smoke to get in your eyes, like the Platters sang in 1958. Instead, I want to address a different kind of smoke by letting you know that October 4-10, 2020, is Fire Prevention Week (FPW). This year’s theme is “Serve Up Fire Safety In the Kitchen!” Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), President Calvin Coolidge made Fire Prevention Week a national observance in 1925. It is always observed during the week of October 9th, to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871.
The Great Chicago Fire killed an estimated 300 people, left 100,000 others homeless, and caused extensive structural damage. In reading about this fire, I learned that a lesser known fire started the same day in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and killed more than 1,000 people. For some reason this fire has not gone down in history like the one in Chicago. Perhaps it’s because even though Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland, with over 1.2 million milk cows, Chicago had Catherine O’Leary’s family cow, which popular legend holds started the great fire when it kicked over a lantern while being milked.
The importance of fire safety within the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program is evidenced by the fact that the Fireman badge was one of the 14 “Badges of Merit” issued by the BSA in 1910. It was renamed the Firemanship merit badge in 1911, and was later replaced in 1995 by the current Fire Safety merit badge.
Fire Prevention Week is a great time to kick off a discussion of fire safety. Troops might consider offering the Fire Safety merit badge in October, or planning a meeting around this topic. Fire safety during campouts, and especially while cooking over a campfire, should be covered with Scouts. Parents can go over fire safety drills at home, and check smoke alarms with their kids.
There are a lot of great resources to help Scouts and their families learn about fire safety, both in the home and outdoors. Here are just a few that I found especially useful:
NFPA, Fire Prevention Week: safety tip sheets, activities, lessons, videos, games, apps and more
American Red Cross, Home Fire Prevention & Safety Tips: fact sheets,
- Safe Kids Worldwide, Fire Safety: worksheets, videos, checklists, infographics, reports and more
- U.S. Forest Service, Smokey Bear: Campfire safety, backyard debris burning, equipment use and maintenance, and more
- Dekanski Home Selling Team, RE/MAX: "House Fires: Prevention, Preparation, and Other Safety Considerations" - comprehensive guide covering preventing fires at home, fire escape plan, protecting valuables and important documents, smoke alarms and fire alarms, fire extinguishers, accessible fire safety, other fire safety products and tools, fire facts and statistics
- Camping Cooks: Campfire Safety 101: How to Safely Build and Maintain a Campfire
- Bryan on Scouting blog post: “10 fire safety tips that could save your life (or at least your eyebrows)”
- How to Protect Your Home from Wildfire: Find out if your home is at risk from wildfires, and how to protect it if it is. Includes suggestions for setting up an extra layer of protection between a wildfire and your home; and help understanding what your home owner's insurance covers and what you can do to ensure you are covered when a wildfire strikes.
I hope you’ll take some time to educate the important people in your life about fire safety. If you have something interesting to share about your plans for Fire Prevention Week, please leave a comment.
If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll share it with a friend!
P.S. Do you wish being a Scouts BSA parent was a breeze? It is with the Smooth Sailing eGuide, Planner and Organizer for new and continuing Scout parents! Updated January 2020.