Fire Prevention Week 2023
Volume 4 Issue 1
November 6, 2023
Image Provided by WETM
The Chicago Fire of 1871 is known as one of the most brutal and tragic fires in history. As a result, in 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the very first National Fire Prevention Day Proclamation. Starting in 1922, Fire Prevention Week was celebrated to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire and inform the public about the importance of fire prevention. Fire Prevention Week is celebrated every year on Sunday through Saturday, the week of October 9th. Every year has a different theme, and this year the theme is, “Cooking safety starts with YOU! Pay attention to fire prevention.”
So, something you are probably asking is, “What’s so important about cooking safety?” Well, this is no laughing matter since cooking has been the leading cause of home fires and fire-related injuries, and has resulted in more fire deaths in 2014-2018, than in 1980-1984. So, I am going to be telling you some ways to keep yourself safe in the kitchen. But first, I believe that we must identify hazards in the kitchen in order to know how to prevent them.
Something you should not do at all is to leave your food unattended, as this is the leading cause of cooking-related fires. Multiple objects in the kitchen that are flammable and incredibly dangerous - this includes oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains. Other dangerous objects in the kitchen are pot handles, mainly because some people may bump into them, and either cause a grease fire, burn themselves, or spill something that is boiling. Something dangerous about microwaves is that some people use extension cords to plug them in, although you should always plug them in directly into the kitchen wall. A final piece of information you should know before I move on is that frying-related fires dominate most cooking fires. So, now that we have identified some hazards in the kitchen, let us get onto how you can keep yourself safe.
Since you are probably thinking about frying because of what I just told you, I will first talk about how you can safely fry. You should stay in the kitchen whenever you are frying, and you must also keep an eye out for what you are cooking in the first place. You should heat the oil slowly to the temperature you desire. Something else you should do is keep a lid beside your pan. If a fire breaks out, you should slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover, let the pan cool, and do not throw water over it. Also, if you see smoke, turn off the burner and remove the pan, as smoke is a sign that the oil is too hot. If the fire does not go out or if you do not feel comfortable, get everyone out of your house, and call the fire department. Now, with frying out of the way, there are a few more things I should tell you. Referring back to what I stated about flammable objects, clear the area of those objects before cooking. You should also turn the pot handles away from yourself, and towards the back of the stove to prevent something from falling. Also, for quick meals in the microwave, you should make sure the microwave is at a safe height that is comfortable for all users. You should also open the food slowly, away from your face to prevent burns.
To conclude, I should tell you some facts about cooking fires, to make sure you know why fire prevention is important. To start, two-thirds of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other materials that are used in the kitchen. Clothing is also the first item ignited in less than 1% of these types of fires. However, this has caused 8% of home cooking fire deaths. A third and final fact you should know is that ranges, or cooktops account for three-fifths of home cooking fire incidents. Hopefully, the information and tips provided will help you be safer when cooking, and when in the kitchen in general.
SOURCES: NFPA Applied Research