Helping to prevent fires by teaching adults and children about fire prevention is the primary goal of National Fire Prevention Week, and this year it takes place on October 6 thru 12. Communities across the U.S. are participating in various educational programs and activities which will promote fire prevention, and kitchen safety is being emphasized this year.
There is good reason to take time to focus on fire safety. There were 370,000 home structure fires in 2011 that fire departments in the U.S. responded to. Those fires resulted in 2,520 civilian deaths, 13,910 civilian injuries, and $6.9 billion in direct damage. In addition:
- The leading cause of home fire fatalities is smoking.
- The leading cause of both home fires and home fire injuries is cooking, and the second most frequent cause is heating equipment.
- Seven people in the U.S. die because of home fires every day, on average.
- Although most fatal fires result in one or two deaths, in 2011, 12 home fires resulted in the deaths of five or more people, and a total of 67 people died in those fires.
This is the 91st annual National Fire Prevention Week, and it is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). This event got its start in 1922, and it was a commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. As a result of that fire, 200 people were killed, more than 2,000 acres were burned, and over 100,000 people were left homeless.
One of the major changes in this annual focus on fire prevention came in the 1950s, when Sparky the Fire Dog made his first appearance. He has been part of the program ever since. A big change took place on the event’s 40th anniversary, when the focus of National Fire Prevention Week switched from festivities to a time of educating the public about important fire prevention measures.
Prevent Kitchen Fires
It can take only a few minutes for unattended cooking to become a home fire, and firefighters and other safety advocates are getting the word out. Of every five home fires, two originate in the kitchen, which is more than any other area of the home. Cooking fires are the most frequent cause of fire-related injuries in the home. The following is advice for preventing kitchen fires:
- Always stay in the kitchen when you are frying, broiling, boiling, or grilling food; but if you must leave the room, even if for only for a brief period, turn off the stove.
- Stay in the home and check the stove regularly anytime you are simmering, roasting, or baking food. In addition, set alarms to remind you to check on the food being prepared.
- Wear tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
- Clean up food or grease spills on burners and stove tops.
- Make sure there are no flammable objects near the stove top, such as towels, potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and paper bags.
- Children and pets should always stay at least three feet away from the stove. Use the back burners whenever possible if there are small children in the home.
Prevent Chimney Fires
One of the most important ways to prevent a home fire, if you have a fireplace, is to have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually. A major cause of heating equipment-related fires is lack of cleaning and maintenance of the chimney.
Take some time to consider fire prevention practices for your home; and if you haven’t done so already, contact us today for your annual cleaning and inspection.
Northeastern Chimney, Inc.
formerly Nayaug Chimney Services, LLC
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110