Oct. 9, 1871.
That date has great meaning to residents of the Windy City, and to firefighters across the country.
Legend has it that while Mrs. O'Leary was milking her cow, it kicked over a lantern, this started the Great Chicago Fire. At the end of the 27-day inferno, about 300 people were killed, another 100,000 left homeless and more than 17,000 buildings destroyed within 2,000 acres.
In commemoration of that tragic event, each October, we observe National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 5 through 11). During this week, firefighters across the country visit elementary schools, preaching the importance of fire prevention and fire safety.
But Payson firefighters don't limit their educational activities to just this one week each year. They address the need for focused instruction as it arises.
Through the department's Juvenile Firesetter Program, firefighters share intense discussions on the hazards of fire, and how fire can damage or destroy lives. The program involves the entire family because it often takes a family effort to correct potentially deadly behavior.
Rim country residents should also take note this week to make sure their homes are fire safe.
- Install smoke detectors in your home on every level and in every sleeping area. Test them once a month, replace the batteries at least once a year.
- lan and practice two escape routes out of each room and designate an outside meeting place.
- eep matches, lighters and other heat sources out of children's reach.
- each children to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothes catch fire, and to crawl low under smoke.
By teaching children fire prevention tips early, families may avoid an intolerable loss.
As the weather in the Rim country cools, many residents will turn to wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Make sure your home fires burn safely.
Have your chimney cleaned and serviced. Be sure to have a fireproof container available for removing ashes. And make sure that flammable materials are moved away from all heat sources.
The best way to thank firefighters for all they do is to not give them something to do.