With fire safety and prevention being two of the main priorities of your M.D. of Foothills Fire Department, we’ve put together a two-step Home Fire Safety presentation to help promote important safety practises we feel everyone should know. Statistics show that 78 percent of all fire deaths occur in homes, with most of these fatalities taking place in the early morning hours between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Kitchen cooking fires, however, remain the number-one cause of home fires and the most fire-related injuries. Furthermore, the majority of these kitchen fires are easily preventable by following some common-sense precautionary measures. The first section of our Home Fire Safety information will cover tips for kitchen safety as well as safety in other areas of your home.
Room-By-Room Fire Safety Tips
Kitchen Fire Safety:
Most kitchen fires are started by the ignition of overheated cooking oil. Once most cooking oil has been heated to 200°C, combustible vapours start being given off and these can spontaneously ignite. Reused oil starts vaporizing at even lower temperatures. The safest way to cook in oil (deep fry) is to use a temperature controlled skillet or deep-fat fryer, which are designed to keep oil temperatures below 200°C. If you do experience a grease fire, never throw water on it, as this will cause an explosion. Simply turn off the heat immediately and cover with a tight-fitting lid and the fire will die from lack of oxygen.
Other tips for ensuring kitchen fire safety include:
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Keep a pot lid nearby in case you need to smother a grease fire.
- Keep cooking areas free of combustibles such as packaging, towels, drapes and potholders. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes while cooking, especially loose-hanging sleeves.
- Turn pot handles inward to avoid bumping them and keep kids away from cooking areas.
- Don’t operate defective equipment.
- Don’t cook if drowsy from alcohol or medication.
- Use a correctly-sized fireplace screen, and be very careful with fireplaces in general. Never leave a fire unattended.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets or use cheap extension cords.
- Don’t leave burning cigarettes or candles unattended. Keep matches, lighters and lit candles away from children.
- Install smoke detectors in each sleeping area and in the hallway outside. Sleep with bedroom doors closed.
- Bedrooms should be non-smoking areas.
- Ensure electrical appliances are checked regularly and in good condition. Unplug when not in use.
Attic and Basement:
- Don’t store flammables like gas or propane indoors.
- Keep clear of combustibles.
- Have your furnace checked/serviced annually.
- Working chimneys should be cleaned annually.
- Store any flammables in approved containers, away from ignition sources. Have and know how to use a properly-sized A,B,C fire extinguisher.
Home Fire Safety Plans Save Lives
Having and practicing a home fire safety plan means every household member must know what to do when a fire is occurring. The first line of defense in fire protection, in addition to following the above steps, is to have a properly installed fire alarm system. Proper installation and maintenance of smoke and fire detectors is discussed in this N.P.F.A. article.
Every sleeping area should have two available exits. Upper floor bedrooms should have a fire escape ladder available. All occupants should be instructed to respond to the sound of a fire alarm by first checking the door to find out if it’s hot and, if not, to slowly open it to see if a safe escape route exists.
At least twice a year, your monthly smoke detector check should occur while the family is asleep. This will provide true-to-life practice of what will happen in the event of a real fire. Everyone should meet at a designated outdoor safe area for a headcount.