Fire: Both a Tool & Enemy

Fire: Both a Tool & Enemy

Fire. We might use it in our everyday life but we should never become complacent when handling it. In 2010, the U.S. Fire Department reported an estimated 156,400 home structure fires, which resulted in these alarming statistics:

410 deaths

5,310 injuries

$993 million in direct property damage

Not surprisingly, a high proportion of home fires start in the kitchen. Here are some preventative measures to protect yourself, your family, and your home:

Most cooking fire injuries occur due to people fighting the fires themselves, approximately 59 percent. So, the message here is: when in doubt – get out! Call 911 and wait for the Fire Department. You may think you can put out the fire yourself, but you may not have the proper tools. Fire extinguishers should be strategically placed (and maintained) in your home, but know how to operate them, otherwise they are useless in an emergency.

Be Alert.
Pay attention to your cooking workspace. Do you have any flammable materials near your oven or stove?  Are you wearing loose clothing (especially draping sleeves)? Go change. Minimize risks by removing them. If your clothing does catch fire, remember to STOP, DROP, AND ROLL! Cover your face with your hands and roll back and forth until the fire is out. Run cool water over any burns for 3 to 5 minutes and seek immediate medical attention.

Watch for children.
Before you start cooking, declare the kitchen a kid-free zone. Keep saucepan handles out of reach, and never leave the area unattended. You know the saying: “a watched pot never boils”. Well, it won’t catch fire either.

Always monitor hot oil and heat it slowly, keeping the pan lid and oven mitt close at hand.
You never know when something might go wrong. The pot may boil over and cause an electrical fire. Never leave the kitchen, even for a short period, without first turning off the stove.

Keep your stove area free of food and other debris like dishtowels as these are definitely fire hazards.
Utilize your back burners for bigger pots and pans, and ensure handles are out of a child’s reach.

Remember to properly install and maintain smoke detectors in your kitchen area, as well as throughout your house.
Make sure that you have done your research as to what type of detector your household should have and check them every month. Replace the batteries often and never take them out.

Damage to your house can always be repaired. That’s what insurance is for. However, no amount of money can replace loss of life. For more tips on household safety, visit How to Prevent Kitchen Fires.

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