Did you know Fire Prevention Week is October 6-12? Do you know why Fire Prevention Week was created?
While Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire, more importantly, its purpose is to focus on fire prevention and safety tips.
The tragic Chicago fire started on October 8, 1871 and lasted for two days. The damage created by the fire was enormous. According to Wikipedia the fire destroyed:
• More than 73 miles of road;
• 2,000 lampposts;
• 17,500 buildings;
• $222 million in property; and
• Left 100,000 of Chicago’s 300,000 residents homeless.
Fire Prevention Week has been around since 1922 and has a different theme every year. This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires”. While I share some tips for preventing kitchen fires, this blog will also address general overall fire prevention and safety tips.
Kitchen Safety Tips
1. Be alert and pay attention. Don’t leave food unattended while you’re cooking. A slight change in temperature can have a dangerous impact. Chores, texts, and TV can wait. If you’re tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, cooking is not the best thing to do. If you’re frequently distracted, consider setting a timer for less than the recommended cooking time. That way you’ll get back to the kitchen before your food can burn.
2. A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen. Keeping your cooking area clean and clutter free is important. Cleaning your stovetop and burners, as well as inside the oven, can prevent grease buildup. Nothing smells worse than residual food burning inside your oven when you pre-heat it. By keeping your cooking area clutter free, you can avoid accidentally knocking something over on a burner.
3. Keep small children out of the kitchen. Having two girls of my own, I know this can be a challenge; however, it’s recommended that small children be kept at least three feet from the stove. By following this guideline, you can prevent kids from tugging on boiling pots of water or being hit by grease splatter.
4. Call 911 immediately. If a fire breaks out in your kitchen, call 911 immediately. Kitchen fires can be tricky to extinguish. Water isn’t always the right choice for extinguishing a kitchen fire.
Heat Safety Tips
1. Three feet is sweet. When it comes to portable heaters or a fireplace, it’s important to keep things that can burn at least three feet away.
2. Your oven is not a heater. Never use your oven as a heat source, especially if it uses natural gas. It can cause carbon monoxide poisoning which can be deadly. And don’t leave the door of a hot oven wide open, especially if you have small children or pets.
3. Inspect your furnace, chimney, and other heating equipment. Experts recommend that a reputable and qualified professional inspect this equipment each year to detect leaks or buildup. Creosote builds up in a chimney, and if it’s not regularly cleaned, it can become highly flammable. The links below provide more information about fireplace safety and creosote build up.
Electrical Safety Tips
This section is near and dear to my heart because my dad spent his career as an electrician and electrical inspector. He always shared these tips with family, friends, and customers.
1. Hire a qualified and reputable electrician. If you need electrical work done in your home, consider hiring a reputable and qualified electrician in your community. Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for references. Consider how long an electrician has been working in this field or how long his company has been in business. Even the condition of an electrician’s work truck can be a tell-tale sign of how reputable he/she is.
Like many other professions, electricians must attend continuing education each year. This keeps them up-to-date on code changes.
2. Weekend warriors. If you’re confident you can do the electrical work yourself, it’s best to obtain an electrical permit through your local municipality. The permit will require an inspection of the completed work which will ensure it’s up to code, and ultimately, will help keep you and your family safe.
3. Extension cords …Ugh. One of my dad’s biggest pet peeves is the extension cord. While extension cords are very useful, they’re only meant to be a temporary solution. My dad has been to many homes that had extension cords running up the wall, across a door jam, and across the living room floor. If you need an electrical outlet in a particular location, hire an electrician. This is a much safer alternative to extension cords.
I hope you found these fire prevention/safety tips helpful. Please remember that having working smoke detectors and an escape plan can make the difference between life and death.