Safe Kids Kansas

Preventing Accidental Injury.

October 4, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

October 7-13 is Fire Prevention Week

Practice Your Escape Plan

In the six-year period 2000-2005, 43 Kansas children ages 14 and under died in residential fires, and another 334 were hospitalized for unintentional fire/burn related injuries. October 7-13, 2007, is Fire Prevention Week, observed every year since 1922 around the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Safe Kids Kansas reminds parents and caregivers that 89 percent of all fire-related deaths to Kansas children occur in the home.

“Fire is especially dangerous to young children, ages 5 and under. They don’t recognize the danger and don’t know how to react,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator. “ Every year, dozens of children die nationwide while trying to escape from fires.” Only one out of four families say they have developed and practiced a fire escape plan.

“It is not enough to have a home fire escape plan. Sometimes there are only seconds to escape. To escape safely, you’ve got to make sure everyone in the home has practiced the plan,” says Stegelman. Safe Kids Kansas recommends that families plan two ways out of every room and practice the escape plan with children at least twice a year. Designate a safe place to meet outside in the event of a fire emergency. Teach children never to go back into a burning building, even for a pet or favorite toy. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside.

Most fire-related fatalities are caused by smoke inhalation. “ A working smoke alarm can provide your family enough time to safely exit and cuts your chances of dying in a fire by nearly half,” says Stegelman. “Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home and outside every sleeping area. Test the alarm every month and change the batteries twice a year.” An easy way to remember is to change the batteries when you change your clocks to and from daylight-saving time. Smoke alarms are also available with 10-year lithium batteries. It is recommended that you replace smoke alarms every ten years.

Safe Kids Kansas also reminds parents:

  • Keep matches, lighters, candles, gasoline and all other flammable materials locked away and out of children’s reach.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in a safe location away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.
  • Never leave the kitchen while you are cooking. Keep children away from cooking and heating appliances.
  • Place space heaters at least 3 feet from curtains, papers, furniture and other flammable materials. Make sure heaters are stable, and use protective coverings.

For more information about fire safety for children and families, visit

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nemaha, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Norton, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For more information visit