Yuma, Arizona (NAPSI) - Individuals, groups and businesses in communities around the country can be heroes to some of the most admired people in America.

That’s because there’s now an easy way to help firefighters educate children and save lives.

The Problem

Every year, fire departments in theUnited Statesrespond to more than 350,000 home fires, resulting in at least 2,500 deaths and more than 12,000 injuries.

“We see fire-related injuries that might have been prevented if the victims had received fire safety tips, installed working smoke alarms or practiced an escape plan,” explained James M. Shannon, president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

“Our first line of protection is educating the community,” saidShannon. “But tight municipal budgets mean less money for educational materials.” NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety and is the program’s sponsor.

What You Can Do

That’s where community members like you come in. Through a registry called Sparky’s Wish List: Partnering for Fire-Safe Communities, community members can provide critical educational resources and materials. These materials are used by firefighters to educate children in fire safety and prevention during classroom visits, teach older adults in the community, provide lifesaving information to people with disabilities or reach out to residents during a fire station open house-especially during the annual Fire Prevention Week (October 7 to 13, 2012). The registry is named for Sparky the Fire Dog, NFPA’s official mascot and spokesdog. He visits schools and participates in community events to spread fire safety messages, often accompanied by his firefighter friends.

“Sparky’s Wish List is designed to help close the gap between what fire departments can afford and what they need to educate on fire safety,” saidShannon.

Stay Safe at Home

For example, fire departments distribute colorful workbooks and posters to schoolchildren and brochures to adults with the official Fire Prevention Week message: Have 2 Ways Out! Messages taught include:

Plan your fire escape.

• Walk through your home and plan two ways out of every room. One way out will be the door, and the second way out may be a window.

• Inspect to be sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. For the best protection, interconnect the smoke alarms so when one sounds, they all sound.

• Make sure everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm.

• Choose an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone will meet.

• Make plans for anyone who has a disability or needs help escaping.

Practice your home fire escape drill.

• Have a home fire escape plan and have an escape drill twice a year.

• Hold escape drills during the day and at night.

• If children or others don’t wake when the smoke alarm sounds, assign someone to wake them up.

When the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside!

• Leave immediately and go right to your outside meeting place.

• Don’t go back inside for any reason.

• Once you’re safely outside, call the fire department from your cell phone or a neighbor’s phone.

• Tell firefighters if any people or pets are trapped in the home.

How It Works

Fire departments put the wish list together by creating a profile and clicking boxes to indicate the materials they need. Donors can purchase those materials by searching for their department’s registry. The materials will be sent directly to the fire department. Tools and resources are also available for departments to learn how to spread the word to the community and engage potential donors.

Further Facts

You can learn more, including how to help, at www.sparkyswishlist.org/give and (800) 344-3555. The deadline for donations is quickly approaching.