Fire Prevention Week: Time to Prepare

Focus on fire safety and general safety at home and in the community.

Oct. 4-10 is National Fire Protection week, and Pete Piringer, Chief Spokesperson for Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service (MCFRS) is encouraging all County residents to be prepared for an emergency.

“A few minutes of planning can make all the difference in an emergency,” Piringer tweeted Oct. 2. “What’s YOUR plan? MCFR urges you to 'Take 10 on 10/10' to check smoke alarms, practice & update your #FireSafety & home/work escape plans - Got 10 mins? It could save your life ... Close Your Door, too.”

In honor of Fire Prevention Week, County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein announced the “Take 10 on 10/10” campaign, asking everyone to take 10 minutes on Oct. 10 to check their smoke alarms and replace any 10 years or older, practice a family fire drill and create a Family Emergency Kit.

Smoke Alarms do expire, according to a press release from MCFRS.

“Like any electronic device, smoke alarms wear out over time and need to be replaced. Replace all smoke detectors older than 10 years.”

A state law aimed at reducing home fire deaths went into effect in 2013. It requires replacement of any battery-only operated smoke alarm with a unit powered by a 10-year sealed-in battery – ultimately affecting the more than 800,000 Maryland homes with battery-operated smoke alarms. These sealed-in, long-life battery alarms provide continuous protection for a decade, and national fire experts like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) recommend their use.

A Home Fire Drill Can Save Your Life

Less than a quarter of households surveyed have actually developed and practiced a home escape plan. Fire safety experts say to map out a home escape plan complete with a meeting place, and to practice your plan with a home fire drill.

“It’s important to keep enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of your family for at least three days. Assemble a Family Emergency Kit with items you may need in an emergency. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as suitcases, duffle bags or covered storage containers,” the press release explained.

Detailed information on how to prepare a Family Emergency Kit: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/oemhs/kit/.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced that the theme of Fire Prevention Week 2020 is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.”

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S, according to the NFPA. They encourage people to use the week of October 4-10 to educate themselves on cooking hazards, the dangers of unattended cooking, and precautions they can take to prevent cooking-related fires.

According to NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

“We know cooking fires can be prevented,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice-president of outreach and advocacy. “Staying in the kitchen, using a timer, and avoiding distractions such as electronics or TV are steps everyone can take to keep families safe in their homes.”

“The most important step you should take before making a meal is to “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” she said. “A cooking fire can grow quickly. I have seen many homes damaged and people injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.”

Safety tips to prevent a cooking fire:

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and cooking fire prevention, visit https://www.nfpa.org/fpw.

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