CHARLOTTE—This is National Fire Prevention Week and fire departments across the state and country are asking residents to make sure they're prepared in case of an emergency. It's not just a topic that's important to fire officials, but also fire safety advocates, who have experienced a loss due to a fire at their home.
It was one year ago on Wednesday that an electrical fire destroyed Margretha Pinkney's Huntersville home and changed her life forever.
"I woke up in CMC Main to find out I had lost my only child and we had had a house fire,” said Pinkney.
She and her son, nine-year-old Nikko, had no escape plan, no working smoke alarm, and no working carbon monoxide detector.
"Because no one thinks it'll happen to you. No one thinks you'll go to bed one night, you'll kiss your child, you'll tell them how much you love them, and the next morning they're gone,” said Pinkney.
Although this week is officially national Fire Prevention Week, Pinkney says tips and tools for fire prevention and safety should be practiced year round.
"Let the children know. Ask them questions. While you're cooking, ask them how do we prevent a fire? Make it a normality. If anything should happen, I go out this window. If anything should happen, I go out this door," said Pinkney.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nationally in 2010, one house fire was reported every 85 seconds.
"People need to understand that the most dangerous place for a fire is at home, not necessarily the workplace. And having that escape plan, having two ways out of your home can make a difference and when you smoke alarm goes off, that's the signal to get out and stay out,” said Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Rob Brisley.
Fire officials said the majority of these house fires start in the kitchen.
"Our concern here is do not be distracted. If you're in charge of cooking that's the only task you need to keep track of. Often fires break out in the kitchen because people get distracted, take on other assignments or tasks, which lead to possibly a fire breaking out in the kitchen,” said Brisley.
Pinkney said for as long as she's alive, she'll talk about fire prevention every week of the year, to make sure she saves at least one life.
“It's 356 days Wednesday that I woke up to find out the love of my life was gone. I don't want another parent to have to feel what I feel every single day,” said Pinkney.
Fire officials recommend not only changing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months, but also testing them at least once a month. They also recommend having at last two escape plans, and practicing them regularly with your family.