Contact: Brian LaFlure, Warren County Fire Coordinator/Emergency Services Director, 518-761-6537
Fire Prevention Week is observed every October, an important time of year in the fire service as the seasons transition to colder weather and heating systems fire up.
A variety of educational events typically mark Fire Prevention Week around Warren County. But in light of this year’s health emergency, the outreach has been different as the week draws to a close. Many online educational offerings have been made available.
The National Fire Protection Association has designated kitchen safety as Fire Prevention Week’s focus this year, according to Warren County Fire Coordinator Brian LaFlure.
NFPA statistics show that cooking mishaps are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Almost half of all reported home fires start in the kitchen, and 66% of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires, and scald burns are the second leading cause of all burn injuries. Hot liquids from coffee and even microwaved soup can cause devastating injuries.
“A cooking fire can grow quickly,” LaFlure said. “I have seen many homes damaged and people injured by fires that could easily have been prevented. It is important to be aware of all of the potential fire dangers when cooking.”
There are several important safety tips to keep in mind at all times in the kitchen:
- Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
- When you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, please check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
- Be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
- Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
- Create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink are prepared or carried.
LaFlure reiterated that fire prevention is really a year-round effort.
In addition to guarding against cooking mishaps and preparing for when they might happen, Fire Prevention Week is a good time to schedule an annual heating system inspection and cleaning, LaFlure said. That includes a chimney cleaning for woodstoves and fireplaces, leading causes of heating-related fires.
And please remember to change smoke detector batteries in the coming weeks as daylight savings time ends!
For more information on Fire Safety Week, go to firepreventionweek.org.