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National Fire Protection Week – October 8-14, 2023

National Fire Protection week is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada. The specific week is chosen to highlight the date of October 9. Whatever week starting on Sunday and ending on Saturday that includes October 9 is designated as National Fire Protection Week. This week and this date were designated in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge in the aftermath of the great Chicago Fire of October 1871. The national effort to highlight fire safety, both preventively, and in case of fire, has been sponsored since 1922 by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The theme varies yearly and is chosen by NFPA. Although the theme varies yearly, the goal is always consistent: equal emphasis on prevention and safety.

This year, the theme highlights cooking safety:

“Cooking safety starts with YOU.
Pay attention to fire prevention.”

Cooking Safety 1 October 2023

Home cooking is identified as the main cause of both fires and fire injuries in the home. Escaping a fire requires an actionable plan that is both proactive and reactive. Fires move quickly and reacting rapidly saves lives.

Listed below are the safety recommendations for prevention of home cooking fires:

  • Cooking requires focus: Do not cook if you feel ill, are sleepy or woozy for any reason. Specifically, do not use a stove top or oven if you are not fully alert.
  • Do not leave food unattended while cooking. This applies to all cooking methods: Grilling, boiling, baking, frying. Moreover, do not let food overcook or overflow from a pot, or turn to smoking Use a timer as a means of alerting yourself to tend to your cooking.  Use a back burner whenever possible. Turn handles of pots and pans away from the front of the stove if possible.

Children & Pets

Cooking Safety 2 October 2023
  • Children and pets will not have awareness of any of the above issues. A pet jumping up to a frying pan or a child tipping over a boiling pot of water, underscore this Define an area of at least 3 feet around the stove area that is off limits for kids and pets.
Cooking Safety 3 October 2023 C

Grease Fires

Cooking Safety 1 October 2023A
  • Grease fires: Never throw water on a grease fire. Grease fires are put out by cutting off the oxygen supply (smothering the fire.) Placing a lid on the pan if safe to do so, will cut off the oxygen supply and smother the fire. Baking soda and salt can also be used to extinguish a grease fire.
  • Baking powder and flour should never be used to extinguish any fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within easy access in the kitchen and know how to use

Microwave Fires

Microwave fire
  • Microwave Fires: A common cause of microwave fires is food exploding in the microwave oven. Read microwave instructions for both time of cooking and microwave safety for cooking a specific If there is a microwave fire, turn the microwave off immediately and keep the door to the microwave closed.   Finally, do not plug a microwave into an extension cord, as this can overwhelm the circuit and cause a fire. Microwaves need to be plugged directly into a wall socket.

A word about outdoor grills

Outdoor grill
  • Position grills 10 feet from the house and remove flammable objects near the grill. Gas leaks from the grill hose or connector can be checked by rubbing a mixture of half water and half liquid dish soap on the hose. Turn on the gas and look for bubbles forming on the hose, indicating a leak.  If you find a leak, replace the hose.

If there is a re in the kitchen, or anywhere in your home, and if you feel unsafe for any reason, do not attempt to put it out. Call 911 and leave the building.

The Great Chicago Fire Inspired Fire Protection Week, a few words about this fire:

great-chicago-fire-header

The Great Chicago Fire over its three-day duration resulted in enormous damage: Approximately 250 deaths, over 100,000 homeless, destruction of approximately 17,000 buildings, and 2000 acres. The fire extended over a 4 mile long by 1-mile-wide area. While this fire was not the biggest fire of that era or even of that week, it is the one that captured the angst and hearts of the country. There is considerable folklore as to the cause, specifically about Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocking over a lantern in the barn. This was debunked twenty years later when the reporter who broke that story owned up to fabricating the story.

While this fire is famous, what is special about this fire to promote the message of fire prevention and safety?

The scope of minimizing damages and maximizing public safety from fire is evident from the changes made in the aftermath of the Chicago Fire. The Great Chicago Fire can be considered using the Fire Triangle. The Fire Triangle is a model employing three elements that must be present for a fire to occur: Oxygen, heat, and fuel. Without all three there is no fire. The Great Chicago Fire is a dramatic example, having all three elements. Wooden buildings and saw dust in the streets provided plenty of fuel; High winds provided oxygen.

Very high summer temperatures provided heat. Water which cuts off heat and fuel to a fire was in short supply due to other smaller fires that were burning. Fire prevention methods in the wake of this fire led to laws requiring fireproofing building construction by using noncombustible materials. Fire breaks, created between buildings, to prevent fire from jumping to adjacent buildings, were created by widening the roads. A new aqueduct was constructed after the fire, and more aqueducts continued to be built. Aqueduct construction was pivotal in the development of indoor sprinkler systems.

The Chicago Fire Academy was opened on the site of the O’Leary barn in 1961. The firefighters of the great Chicago Fire were very short handed in terms of numbers. They were exhausted from fighting other fires. The nod to the plight of the firefighters by building an academy that would address these issues and train future firefighters, at the site of the Great Chicago Fire, is yet another acknowledgement of the aftermath of this fire ninety years later.

Follow these helpful links to review and learn more about the “must haves” for prevention of injury and damage from home fires. While these are not specific to cooking fires, they are universal recommendations for fire safety.

“Safety is a must not an option.”
“Cooking Safety starts with You.
Pay attention to fire prevention!”