October is Fire Prevention Month, and the Firemen's Association of the State of New York reminds citizens to be prepared and to learn basic lifesaving lessons. This year's theme, "Preventing Kitchen Fires," focuses on teaching people how to avoid dangers of fire while cooking.
Forty percent of all home fires originate in the kitchen, so people should be alert while they are cooking. Gordon Kotars, the FASNY representative for central and western New York, said to pay attention, especially when cooking with a fiery pan. Oils can flame up to a high ignition temperature, and when they do, they burn fierce and they burn fast. Within seconds flames can be crawling up on the wall, and many people panic and attempt to take the pan, which is still on fire, off the stove, burning themselves in the process. Kotars said if this happens, cover the pan to smother the flames.
He also advised people to stay in the kitchen when cooking, especially if they are frying or broiling, and to never leave home if cooking. Keeping combustible items away from the stove area can also prevent fires.
According to Kotars, besides being mindful when cooking, people should inspect their appliances every once in awhile. Wires can become frayed, and if not cleaned properly, oils and other flammable liquids can build up. Candles should be kept away from windows because a slight shift in wind can cause the curtains to catch on fire.
Good housekeeping is also paramount in helping prevent a fire. Kotars said hazards should be eliminated, and flammable liquids should not be kept in areas where the furnace and hot water heater are located. Home infrastructure should be checked for anything which can become a hazard from wires to ductwork of water heaters.
Finally, Kotars encourages families to develop emergency drills in the home (or EDITH) in case a fire does break out. And not only develop a plan, practice it. If families need help developing an EDITH plan, they can go to their local fire department.
FASNY was founded in 1872 and represents the interests of more than 90,000 volunteer firefighters in New York. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.