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National Fire Prevention Week began on Sunday and the Office of the State Fire Marshall is urging families to take time to follow important steps in fire safety. The focus this year will be on the importance of having a family escape plan in the event of a fire emergency.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the country responded to over 1.3 million fires in 2010. Out of that number, 384,000 were residential fires, which is an increase of 1.9% from the previous year. These fires resulted in approximately 13,000 civilian injuries and over 2,600 civilian deaths.

The Illinois State Fire Marshall says that at least one smoke alarm should be located on every level of the home, including the basement. Smoke alarms should also be located in every sleeping room and within fifteen feet outside each sleeping area. Of course, testing and replacing batteries are just as important as installing the alarm. The State Fire Marshall recommends that individuals should test their alarm at least once a month using the test button on the alarm and to make sure that everyone in your home knows the sound of the alarm. If an alarm should start chirping, the battery is low and it needs to be replaced right away.

For more information on National Fire Prevention Week, you can visit the State Fire Marshall’s website at sfm.illinois.gov.

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