Monday, December 2, 2013

It’s time for a reality check…. According to FEMA - In 2011 there were 166,600 fires related to cooking at home; 26,800 fires related to electrical home fires; 7,800 fires related to cigarette smoking at home; 43,700 fires related to heating at home.  Shocking? Yes.  Why so?  Because every single year we are reminded in the news and within our own local communities to beware of home fires and how to prevent them – yet every year we have these types of statistics which are still too large in number when they are preventable.

While storm fires are in Mother Nature’s hands, the forest and wildfires which start by human carelessness are no different than the careless humans in these  AT HOME fire statistics.
With the holiday season already in tow, we are reminded once again that we must slow down, take the time to be conscious and pay attention and take preventative measures in fire safety.
FIRST THING:  Make sure your smoke alarms are in working order and that you have a fire extinguisher in your home that is easily accessible to use. 

Be sure that you have taken all the necessary precautions around your home and you’ve eliminated dry brush and leaves around your home.  Even if YOU DO NOT do holiday lights – if your neighbor does, and there is an electrical spark next door, your home could be in jeopardy. Do your part in making sure you don’t have nearby fuel (propane tanks, stacks of fire wood, etc.) nearby to contribute toward a larger problem. 

Millions of people and animals die each year because of fire.  Smokey The Bear first reminded us “Only you can prevent forest fires” to “Only you can prevent wildfires”  – how about ….. ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FIRES – period.  Outside of the fires which happen as a result of mother nature – lightening striking a power line, etc. all the rest of the fires are preventable by us.

While this may appear like a broken-record spiel, we commit ourselves to repeating this until these statistics turn to zero fires.  If reading this can save even one life, it will be worth any of the eye-rolling you all will do reading this.

PAY ATTENTION.  These 166,600 cooking fires…  Really?  Come on.  Stop texting while cooking.  Stop watching TV while you cook and being on the computer or your video games or even on the phone while you have food in the oven or boiling over on the stove top.  Cooking all by itself is a multi-tasking duty – don’t clutter it with outside things.  Your kitchen can be dangerous – between fire and knives – you really don’t want to be doing anything else other than the cooking task at hand. When cooking with grease – be aware that grease fires are by far the worst.  And NO – you do not put out grease fires with water.  Always have PLENTY OF BAKING SODA on hand.  If you make one valuable purchase at Costco or any warehouse super-saver store – get the bulk-size box of baking soda and always have it readily available. 

It can save your life.   The largest metal lid can also help contain it and put it out.  Also – notice when cooking with alcohol – you must go very slow when adding it. Do not douse your meals or deglaze your pans without taking EXTRA PRECAUTION.  Alcohol is highly flammable.  Be careful at all times even when not cooking with grease or alcohol. Fire takes on a life of its own.  You need to also be conscious of what you have around your stove or oven.

Do not have a cluttered environment.  If you have cardboard boxes of food like cereal or pasta boxes or anything else – you have to know that cardboard is flammable – one spark from a gas stovetop or forgetting that box on your electric top can quickly turn into a flame and you’ve got fire. A lot of sparks can also be eliminated by keeping your burners clean!  Dried-on food and bits underneath your burners are fire hazards!   Cleaning your kitchen isn’t just for health purposes to keep yourself safe from E-coli and Salmonella and to keep rats and bugs away, cleaning is also for FIRE SAFETY!  

 Do not wear long sleeves that can easily catch fire when draped nearby an open flame.  If following a recipe… be sure to read it several times BEFORE you start the cooking process so you understand what you have to do.  Floundering in the kitchen only opens yourself to more accidents waiting to happen if you are not paying attention as things are in mid-cooking process. 

PAYING ATTENTION IS YOUR KEY SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING.  You already know the drill – never leave a candle unattended.  But also know that fires can start with everything from frayed Christmas lights; overloaded electrical sockets; and gas leaks (you should have the gas company come out and do an inspection and also examine your pilot lights, water heater line, etc.).  

Also pay attention to something as simple as a table lamp.  Some people are not aware that not all lamps are created equal.  Did you know that lamps have a wattage capacity?   If a lamp only can take a maximum of a 40 watt bulb – and you have a 100 watt bulb in its place, you’re really setting yourself up for a dangerous situation.  Add that to any flammable objects near that lamp – from drapery fabric, piles of clothes, even bottles of perfume on a vanity (yes, perfume is flammable as is nail polish remover) – and you could have a fire.  

When was the last time you had your chimney swept?   Yes, this can start a fire hazard inside your fireplace!   Fireplaces require regular maintenance just like everything else.  Don’t blow off this task – you could save your own life and the life of your family and pets. 

Small space heaters are dangerous. This comes up every year also. Be careful when using them and be even more careful when purchasing them.   You want products that are UL approved and you also need to be careful when using them in your home and where you place them – and DO NOT leave them on and walk away or leave the house.  

Electric blankets are also a danger – particularly if they are older or if you happen to sleep with your cats or dogs on the bed.  Pets chew.  No matter how well behaved your pets may be, claws and teeth near electrical wires in your blankets are dangerous to both you and your pets. 

Take extra precaution while using these.  It is better to be safe layering your bedding with comforters and flannel sheets than it is with a dangerous electric blanket that is not looked after.
YOUR PETS can actually be a hazard in other areas, too.  A dog’s swishing tail, a cat’s curious jumping up and knocking things over ….  Just like you childproof your homes – you need to pet-proof your homes as well.  You should already have dangerous chemicals and flammables out of reach already.   Many people don’t think about this much – but many fires are started by pets curious nature and running antics. If you have more than one pet in your home – this doubles, particularly when pets get into chasing frenzies and fights. Their overzealous playfulness could put your home in danger. 

Please be sure to be aware of all potential hazardous situations – this protects you, your family and your pets. Keep all lights from toppling over, keep all flames out of reach, keep all flammable things  (including things in your medicine cabinet in a locked cabinet).  Animals can go under sinks or inside areas you don’t expect (remember – cats are climbers!) – so be on alert and take precaution.  The last thing you need is for them to get curious and nosey, spill something and suddenly things go up in flames.

We know that fire safety is an endless list.  We hope you’ll take responsibility at all times.  Whether or not you are a cigarette smoker or avid camper – EVERYONE needs to be fire-safe and conscious of their environment to prevent fire safety.  Fires do not discriminate. Everyone is at risk.  And keep in mind that you can be as careful as you can be – but not everyone is.   

Pay attention to your neighbors who have too much brush near their yard and those who work with power tools in their garages with sparks flying near water heater gas lines and any other dangerous situation where fires can be prevented.  

We hope you are always safe – not just around the holidays, but all year long.
~ Athena & Tess – We Solved It


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