The week of October 8 to 14 is designated as National Fire Prevention Week in 2023. Each year, Fire Prevention Week is observed during the week that contains October 9, marking the date of the Great Chicago Fire, which started on October 8, 1871, and burned until October 10.
This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Cooking safety starts with YOU. Pay attention to Fire Prevention”. Nationally, cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, primarily due to unattended cooking. Cooking is also a leading cause of home fires in Stafford County. However, YOU have the ability to prevent these fires from happening in your own home.
Start by making sure that your home has an adequate number of working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be present and working on every level of the home, inside and outside of each sleeping area. Additionally, your family should have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of each room, based on the abilities of everyone in the home. Lastly, you should have a meeting spot that everyone knows.
In the kitchen, establish a kid and pet-free zone around the stove or where hot foods or drinks are being prepared. This area should be at least three feet. Doing so can help to prevent burns and scalds. When cooking, always stay with what you are cooking, and use timers when necessary as well. When cooking on the stove, turn pot handles back towards the stove, to keep them from catching on things and to keep curious children from accidentally pulling hot food or drinks onto themselves. Cook with short or close-fitting sleeves that will not drag into pots, pans, or burners. Keep cooking areas that are hot, including areas of the stove where burners are not on, clear of things that can catch fire, including food packaging, towels and oven mitts. Do not cook if you are tired, are under the influence of alcohol or are using a new medication until you know how it may affect you.
Keep pot lids or cookie sheets nearby when cooking. Covering a pot or pan with a lid or cookie sheet is the most effective way to put out a fire in a small grease fire. If the fire has spread beyond the pot or pan, and into the cabinets or surrounding area, get out of the building and call 911.
Cooking safety is important all year, especially as we head into the holiday season and you may find yourself hosting more people in your home and kitchen. Encourage guests to gather in a room other than the kitchen. This helps to avoid additional distractions that could lead to a cooking fire or cooking-related injury.