American Red Cross responds to thousands of house fires every year, most of which occur while someone is cooking. The focus of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12, is “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” so the Red Cross is hoping to do just that.
Last year, the New River Valley Red Cross Chapter responded to 48 disasters affecting about 180 people. “Here in the New River Valley, we see firsthand the destruction a cooking fire can cause,” said Annie Harvey, chapter executive director. “These emergencies can be prevented and we urge everyone to follow these steps to help avoid a fire in their home.”
•First, and foremost, keep an eye on what you fry. Cooks should not wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves and they should also stay in the kitchen. Never leave cooking food unattended. If a cook must leave the kitchen, even for a short time, they should turn off the stove.
•Fires can start if the heat is too high. If smoke appears or grease starts to boil while frying food, turn the burner off.
•Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
•Clean and clear the area around the stove before turning on the heat.
•Turn pot handles to the back of the stove so no one bumps them or pulls them over.
•Move things that can burn, such as dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains, away from the stove.
•Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet nearby to cover a pan if it catches fire. This will put out the fire.
If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to take the air away and put the fire out. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water – it will only make the fire bigger.
If something catches fire in a microwave oven, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can safely do so. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread to the walls. Don’t use the oven again until a repairman checks it.
If someone’s clothes catch fire, they should stop where they are immediately, drop to the floor, cover their face with their hands and roll over and over to suffocate the flames. Keep doing it until the fire is out.
If a fire breaks out, leave the home and call the fire department from outside. Make sure everyone in the home gets out fast. Once outside, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.
Red Cross recommends households develop a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year with everyone who lives in the home. There should be two ways to escape from every room and an outdoor meeting place should be designated.
Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the house and inside bedrooms. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Test each alarm monthly by pushing the test button.
Download the Red Cross First Aid app to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies, including burns. The app is available in the HYPERLINK “http://itunes.apple.com/US/app/first-aid-by-american-red-cross/id529160691?mt=8″ Apple App Store and on HYPERLINK “https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cube.arc.fa”Google Play for Android.
American Red Cross, a nonprofit organization, shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The agency depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org.