FIRE SAFETY BEGINS AT HOME
Dia de los Muertos Despite the common misconception, Dia de los Muertos is not an offshoot of Halloween. While the two holidays often happen simultaneously, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday that originated with the indigenous people of Central America, including the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Each year, they gathered and gave offerings to their dead. When the Spaniards came to Mexico, they fused the indigenous celebrations with their traditions of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2). ANCIENT BEGINNINGS Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations viewed death as a beginning rather than an end. This was likely tied to agricultural practices and the seasons, with crops dying in the winter and being reborn in the spring. Dia de los Muertos evolved from those roots and is now observed throughout Mexico and the United States. It’s a time of remembering your loved ones by celebrating their lives. FULL OF LIFE Though the name might lead you to believe differently, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous time. If you visit Mexico during the holiday, the air is filled with music, and the streets are full of dancing and color. Instead of a sorrowful mourning of the dead, it is a vibrant, joyous celebration of life. Intricate altar displays, called ofrendas, honor the spirits of relatives who’ve passed. Families fill them with photographs and the relatives’ favorite food and drinks. It’s believed that during Dia de los Muertos, the boundary between the living and the dead is lifted, and for one night only, spirits come back to visit and enjoy what their families have set out for them. Today, the multiday celebration takes place throughout Central and North America. As tiny Batmans and Skywalkers add the final adjustments to their costumes, other families clean their homes and prepare to honor the spirits of their loved ones. And in today's beautiful blend of cultures, many families celebrate both holidays. A Celebration of Life
What You Can Do to Protect Your Home and Family
This year, National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6–12, and it’s dedicated to bringing attention to fire safety and prevention. Most of us know the fire safety techniques they taught in school: stop, drop, and roll. But there is so much more to fire safety when it comes to protecting ourselves, our families, and our homes. The single most basic piece of advice is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Too many people forget to check and replace the batteries (which should be done, at minimum, every six months). But going beyond that, you should consider how many detectors you need. The larger your home, the more you need. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there should be a fire detector in every bedroom of the home, and one should be placed directly outside of each general sleeping area, such as a hallway leading to the bedrooms. In multilevel homes, there should be detectors on each level, including the basement, and at the bottom of every staircase leading to the next level up. Detectors also need to be placed about 10 feet from the kitchen or cooking area — but not right in the kitchen where smoke might be a regular occurrence. Another detector should be placed near any heating or air conditioning unit in case the unit malfunctions. Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are just as important. Any home with a gas line, oil or gas furnace, gas stove/range, gas water heater, generators, space heaters, fireplaces, or garaged motor vehicles is at risk for CO exposure. Many people are poisoned by CO gas because they forgot to turn off a gas appliance, and the consequences for that negligence include illness, brain damage, and even death. Worse, CO is completely odorless and colorless. It can be hard to detect on your own before it’s too late. This is why every home needs a CO detector. Next to smoke and CO detectors, the next best thing you can do is have a plan. Sometimes fires cannot be prevented, like natural disasters or just an accident that’s out of your control. In the event of a fire in the home or even your place of work, know exactly where the fire extinguisher is and how to exit the building and where to go. Whether it’s a bedroom window or the backdoor, have a plan ready to go should you need to get out. Discuss the plan with your family so everyone knows what to do.
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