US marks Fire Prevention Week

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Fire Prevention Week 2023: Emphasising cooking safety

This week, from October 8-14, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has chosen to spotlight the theme “Cooking safety starts with YOU. Pay attention to fire prevention” for its annual Fire Prevention Week campaign.

Statistics spotlight the dangers of cooking fires

Recent data from the NFPA highlights cooking as the predominant cause of home fires in the US, contributing to 49 percent of all domestic fires, mainly related to cooking equipment.

Furthermore, these fires are the leading cause of home fire injuries and hold second place for home fire-related deaths.

Despite a decline in other major home fire causes, such as smoking, since 1980, the rate of cooking-related fires remains unaltered.

Between 2017 and 2021, an average of 158,400 cooking fires occurred in U.S homes each year, leading to 470 civilian deaths, 4,150 civilian injuries, and direct property damage of $1.15 billion.

Lorraine Carli, Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA, stated: “These numbers underscore the need for increased public awareness regarding the occurrence of cooking fires and measures to prevent them.”

Fire Prevention Week’s key messages and advice

This year’s campaign focuses on several safety measures, such as:

  • Constantly monitoring what you’re cooking and setting timers for longer cook times.
  • Ensuring a clear cooking space, devoid of flammable items.
  • Keeping pot handles turned inwards and having a lid within reach in case of grease fires.
  • Designating a three-foot “kid and pet free zone” around cooking areas.

Fire Prevention Week’s historic significance

Recognised every October throughout North America, Fire Prevention Week has been instrumental in educating individuals about the primary risks of home fires and the preventive measures to ensure safety. This public health observance, initiated in 1922 by the NFPA, is rooted in the memory of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which caused significant destruction and loss of life.

Mid-Michigan Stresses the Importance of Cooking Safety

Sunday signalled the commencement of National Fire Prevention Week, and as many Michigan households gear up for their holiday feasts, heightened awareness in the kitchen emerges as a pivotal safety precaution.

The Michigan Fire Inspectors Society disclosed that a staggering 80 deaths were attributed to house fires in Michigan in September 2023 alone.

Michael McLeieer, an ex-firefighter affiliated with Michigan’s Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) and collaborator with the National Fire Protection Association, drew attention to the unsettling rate at which fires can escalate.

“In less than 2 minutes, a home can transition into a complete flashover,” McLeieer shared, underscoring how fires can engulf an entire home.

His advice on prevention includes meticulous cooking habits like constant vigilance of the stove, especially when cooking, setting alarms to avert distractions, and regular removal of dried grease.

A particularly troubling statistic McLeieer mentioned is that over half the Michiganders who faced a house fire lacked functioning smoke alarms. Smoke alarms enhance escape chances by a remarkable 50%, thus emphasising their indispensable role in home safety.

Additionally, creating a “3 ft kid-free zone” during cooking activities and knowing the appropriate actions for kitchen mishaps, such as smothering smoking oil or food with a metal lid, are vital in enhancing safety measures.

Detroit Fire Department Initiates National Fire Prevention Month with Engaging Activities

Detroit Fire Department (DFD) set the stage for an engaging National Fire Prevention Month by orchestrating numerous open houses throughout October.

These interactive sessions aim to educate the community and illuminate the significance of fire prevention, a mission that aligns seamlessly with the theme “Cooking Starts with You”.

The introductory open house is slated for Sunday, October 8th, at Engine 56 on 18601 Ryan, inviting Detroiters to a three-hour session filled with safety demonstrations, CPR training, and distribution of free fire extinguishers.

Intended to be an enjoyable learning experience for families, the event also boasts live entertainment with appearances from prominent figures like Miss. Michigan, Skilla Baby, and Trick Trick.

Interim Fire Commissioner, Charles Simms, expressed his enthusiasm for the upcoming activities: “This is a week that brings the community together every year, and I’m excited to see our residents learning and having fun with our firefighters.”

The Detroit Fire Department’s commendable 121-year service to Detroit underscores their commitment to safeguarding the community.

With a rich legacy of rapid emergency response, top-notch fire safety education, and rigorous enforcement of safety codes, DFD continues to be a protective shield for Detroit.

San José Fire Department Champions Kitchen Safety

San José Fire Department is focusing its efforts on the crucial subject of kitchen safety.

Given that cooking remains the top cause of home fires and related injuries, the department is ardently urging residents to be conscious and careful whenever they’re in the kitchen.

Through community outreach and educational campaigns, they hope to diminish the risk of kitchen-related fires, saving both lives and property.

Among the numerous preventative measures they are recommending, the San José Fire Department has compiled a list of 10 practical tips that everyone should heed while cooking.

These range from the basics, like not leaving the stove unattended, to more nuanced advice such as wearing appropriate clothing when cooking and understanding the dangers of grease fires.

The objective is to cultivate an environment where residents can cook confidently, knowing they are taking all the right precautions.

Beyond just providing tips, the department is actively engaging with the community throughout the week.

Workshops, demonstrations, and hands-on training sessions are being organized across the city to make the lessons of fire prevention more tangible and memorable.

There is also an emphasis on teaching children about fire safety to instill these essential habits from a young age.

By spreading awareness and facilitating hands-on learning, San José is striving to make every kitchen in the city a safer place.

IFSJ Comment

Fire Prevention Week serves as a timely reminder of the constant threat posed by home fires, particularly those linked to cooking. These annual campaigns offer vital education and resources to communities, ensuring that safety precautions become a staple in every household. As the recent data suggests, while we have made progress in reducing certain fire hazards, cooking fires remain a challenge. The International Fire & Safety Journal believes that through initiatives like Fire Prevention Week, awareness can be raised, behaviours can be modified, and communities can be safeguarded more effectively.

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