Residents asked to participate in Operation EDITH, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6:30 p.m.

In communities across the nation Fire Prevention Week will be observed Oct. 7 through 13. The Sleepy Eye Fire Department will be busy with several activities, including conducting fire drills at the schools and welcoming kindergarten classes to tour the fire station. There is also an opportunity for all residents to plan for their safety at home.

Fire Chief Ron Zinniel encourages all residents of Sleepy Eye to participate in Operation EDITH (Exit Drill In The Home) on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Starting at 6:30 p.m. the fire department will drive all around town, sirens and lights on, to remind everyone to plan for their safety.

Zinniel said families should talk about what to do if there is a fire in the home. “They should set a meeting place away from the house and have a family fire drill,” he said. “We ask people to take part in Operation EDITH by turning their outside lights on, or by coming outside as we drive by. Then we’ll know they are thinking about their safety.”

Children in Sleepy Eye’s elementary schools also get fire safety lessons with classroom supplies through the National Fire Safety Council. Zinniel said these are provided with local monetary donations—support that is much appreciated.

Zinniel shared a variety of fire safety tips. First on his list was to have working smoke alarms on each level of a house and a working carbon monoxide detector — and to know the difference between the sound of the alarm and a low battery warning. If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds everyone should leave the house, then call 911.

Other home safety items:

•Make sure no combustible materials are near the furnace or water heater; there should be three feet of clearance around them.

•Portable heaters should be U.L. listed and working properly. Don’t use extension cords with them and use only as secondary heat. Do not leave them running unattended. Again, there should be proper clearance of the area around the heater.

•Have at least one fire extinguisher in the home. Check the gauge monthly for a positive charge. If you have any question have a professional check it or replace it.

•Cooking fires are the leading cause of house fires. Keep the area around stove clear of clutter and combustibles. Don’t leave small children unattended in the when the stove is on. If there is a grease fire, never put water on it; cover the pan with a lid, and don’t move the pan—it will likely spill.

•Outdoor recreational fires are limited to 3 x 3 foot fire rings or fire pits, by city ordinance. The fire must be 25 feet away from buildings and combustible materials. Have a water source near by, a garden hose or pail of water.

•Rural burning of garbage is no longer allowed by state law. (Zinniel said burn barrels have been the source of many fires.)

•Also Rural: No buildings can be burned down without a DNR permit.

•Rural property owners who plan to burn off grass or a brush pile should call the Sheriff to give notification. Be aware that passersby may see the fire and call 911. If dispatch does not know of the planned burning, the fire department will be dispatched and the property owner will be billed.

Zinniel hopes to see a safe harvest season. “I’m asking farmers to be careful, clean chaff out of the combine, keep it in good working order, and have a fire extinguisher on it.”

Zinniel’s message for those in town and the country is the same. “Be aware of your surroundings and weather conditions. Pay attention to what you are doing. You can help prevent fires.”

And, one more thing. “The fire department thanks everyone for their support,” Zinniel said. “Everything from donations to words of support and thanks. It means a lot to us.”