Igniting good safety habits: Fire Prevention Week 2013 emphasizes careful cooking
Deviating from their standard routine, local firefighters are preparing handouts, safety demonstrations and "Freddie" the talking firetruck throughout the week for community children.
Area firefighters will visit schools, churches and civic clubs for national Fire Prevention Week to share fire prevention and safety tips, according to Sanford Fire Chief Wayne Barber. Fire Prevention Week, which began Sunday and will continue through Saturday, was established in 1922 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that killed 250 people and destroyed more than 17,000 structures in 1871.
"The sooner you can get to the kids, the better," he said. "They will remember these programs and they take it with them. It's one way fire prevention works. You get the kids to carry the information with them when they have their own households."
This year's Fire Prevention Week focus is on preventing kitchen fires. In North Carolina, there were more than 8,100 home fires in 2012 — with 33 percent of those directly related to cooking, according to the North Carolina State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin.
“Prevention is the first step in protecting our families from fire,” Goodwin said in a news release. “Cooking fires are the number-one cause of home fires and home injuries. If we always remember to be attentive and alert when cooking, we can help prevent tragedies from occurring.”
One of the most important things to remember is to never put water on a grease fire, Barber said.
"It will cause it to react violently in the wrong way," he said. "It can burn very easily. You can try to slide a pot lid over it, and then leave the house."
Lee County Emergency Services Director Shane Seagroves agreed, also stressing the importance of having a working smoke alarm and fire extinguisher in the house and never leaving food unattended.
"A majority of the calls the city and county respond to is when someone has put some oil in a pan and gone to check on the kids, answer a telephone call," he said. "Normal stuff that we all do, and then they've got a fire in the kitchen."
When a person calls 911 for a fire, Barber said they should state their address and where the fire is located, call from outside the structure and never go back in for an item.
Tips to prevent a house fire include:
- Place smoke alarms on every level of the home, including bedrooms.
- Test smoke alarms once a month, and replace batteries at least once a year.
- Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food.
- Keep stove tops, burners and oven clean.
- Have a kid-free zone of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared.
- Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.