May is Building Safety Month! Founded by the International Code Council in 1980, Building Safety Month is a public awareness campaign that reinforces the need for adoption of modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement, and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system.

Building Safety Month is a way for communities to celebrate all aspects of building safety. Every year, an overall theme is chosen for the entire month. This year’s theme is Building Safety: Maximizing Resilience, Minimizing Risks. In addition, each week of the month is dedicated to a specific area of building safety. The year’s weekly themes are:

  • Week One (May 5 – 11, 2014) – Code Officials: Keeping Fire in its Place
  • Week Two (May 12 – 18, 2014) – Code Officials: Helping Homeowners Weather the Storm
  • Week Three (May 19 – 25, 2014) – Code Officials: Surround Your Building with Safety
  • Week Four (May 26 – 31, 2014) – Code Officials: Building a Brighter, More Efficient Tomorrow

Of course, being a fire protection engineering firm makes Week One of Building Safety Month close to our hearts at Harrington Group. According to the NFPA in its most recent home structure fire report, cooking equipment remains to be the leading cause of home structure fires and non-fatal home fire injuries, while smoking materials leads the cause of home fire deaths. In addition, three out of five fire deaths occurred in homes where smoke alarms were present, but not operating.

Here are some tips from The United States Fire Association (USFA) to help prevent fires in your home:

  • Children under age 5 are twice as likely as the rest of us to die in a home fire. Create an escape plan and make sure everyone in your home practices it. Plan two routes of escape from every room, and designate a meeting place outside of the home. Remember: get out and stay out.
  • Never leave cooking unattended because a serious fire can start in seconds. Don’t wear loose clothing while cooking. Keep towels and pot holders away from the range. Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave your home.
  • The second leading cause of fire death for older adults is heating. When buying a space heater, look for the auto-off feature should the heater fall over. Keep space heaters at least three feet away from other objects. Your fireplace should have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling logs.
  • The number one cause of preventable home fire deaths is smoking. If you smoke, practice these fire-safety tips to avoid putting your life, your home, and your family at risk: Don’t leave a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe unattended. If you feel drowsy, put it out immediately. Use deep ashtrays. And, never smoke in bed.
  • More than 2,500 Americans died in home fires last year. In most cases, the home did not have a working smoke alarm. A sounding smoke alarm gives you with the extra seconds you need to get out of your home – alive. Install and maintain a smoke alarm on every level of your home. Replace the battery every year. It’s a simple way to help keep you and your family better protected 24-7.

We hope that you will take the time this Building Safety Month to learn more about how to help prevent fires and how building codes help keep our communities safe.