This week, October 5 to11, is National Fire Prevention Week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 85 percent of fire fatalities in the US occurred in fires inside homes. The CDC also says most fire-related deaths are caused by the inhalation of smoke and fumes, and not from burns. Detectors are essential to alerting you of smoke and carbon monoxide in your home.

The fall season is an especially important time to bring fire prevention to the forefront of your mind. As the temperatures cool, most people in the country will start using heaters, indoor fireplaces, and perhaps even using the oven and stove more often. These heating sources and others can all lead to home fires. This safety week was established in the years following the Great Chicago Fire, a tragic fall fire taking place over October 8 to 9, 1871, that killed more than 250 people.

Here are some tips to make your home safer:

  • Check your fire alarm for missing, dead or disconnected batteries.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors once a year.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors once a month.
  • Create a fire escape plan and practice it with your family members regularly.
  • Put fire extinguishers in locations throughout your home and make sure everyone knows how to use them.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended on the stove.

The National Fire Protection Association says that structure fires during 2011 caused 2,520 deaths. Read more of the NFPA's fast facts on fires.