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Our view: Importance of fire safety

Sunday marks the beginning of National Fire Prevention Week.

Established in 1920 by President Woodrow Wilson, it started out as a commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when more than 250 people were killed and 100,000 left homeless. More than 17,400 buildings burned across 2,000 acres over two days.

The week is set aside to educate homeowners and businesses about the importance of fire prevention measures.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the U.S. responded to 369,500 home structure fires that caused 13,350 injuries, 2,640 deaths and $6.9 billion in damage in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available.

Among the most important things residents can do, according to the association:

• Make sure you have working smoke detectors outside of every bedroom in your home, and change the batteries twice a year.

• Have two designated escape routes from every bedroom and make sure the whole family knows them.

• Practice the “stop, drop and roll” technique with the entire family in case clothing catches on fire.

• Teach kids the dangers of playing with lighters and matches, and keep such items out of the reach of younger children.

In honor of the week, the McHenry County Fire Chiefs Association announced several planned events:

• Crystal Lake Fire Rescue will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Fire Station No. 1, 100 W. Woodstock St.

• Fox River Grove’s open house is 1 to 3 p.m. today at Station No. 1, 411 Algonquin Road.

• The Marengo Fire Protection District is hosting water fights and an open house beginning at 3 p.m. today at Station No. 1, 120 E. Prairie Street.

• Cary will host an open house beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Station No. 1, 400 Cary-Algonquin Road.

• The McHenry Township Fire Protection District will host open houses beginning noon Sunday at each of its fire stations.

Keep yourself and your family safe from fire.

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