GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) – As summertime is coming to an end, it’s time to think about fire safety in and around the home. Over the Labor Day holiday weekend, 5 people including 2 young children tragically lost their lives in two separate house fires.
Since January 1st, 2020, 92 Michiganders have lost their lives in 74 fires. That’s a 41% increase in fire deaths when compared to 2019.
Did you know cooking is the #1 cause of home fires across North America and here in Michigan? Unattended cooking is the leading cause for those fires in the kitchen. 39% of contact burns from grills or barbeques affect children under the age of 5. Cooking oil and grease fires are a major cause of the cooking fire problem. 23% of cooking fires occur between 11pm and 7am, so that means 40% of fire deaths occur when people are sleeping.
- 3 out of 5 families use electric cooktops.
- 4 out of 5 cooking fires involve electric cooktops.
- Electric ranges are more frequently involved in cooking fires, injuries and deaths due to the heating elements remaining hotter for a longer period of time.
While the new school year has begun, many districts are engaging students through virtual learning which means our kids are home and many will be cooking their meals on their own with a trusted adult’s permission. To prevent cooking fires, kids and adults must be alert!
Here are some tips for safe cooking Where You Live!
- Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or an electric burner.
- Have a “kid-free-pet-free zone” for young children of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
- Keep things that can catch fire away from heat sources including your stovetop (oven mitts, dish towels, paper towels, wooden utensils, food packaging, and curtains).
- Watch What You Heat and Stand By Your Pan when cooking, frying, broiling or boiling food.
- Turn off the burner if you leave the kitchen for any reason.
- To put out a pan fire, slide a lid over the pan, turn off the stove and let the pan cool.
- Never pour water on any cooking fire or grease fire.
- Never discharge a portable fire extinguisher into a grease fire because the force of the extinguisher chemical will spread the fire.
- In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed until it is cool. After a fire, the oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.
- Plug microwave ovens or other cooking appliances directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance – it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
- Use only microwave-safe cookware. Never use aluminum foil or metal objects in a microwave oven.
- Do not leave a microwave oven unattended especially when microwaving popcorn. The heat build up can cause fires. Heat the popcorn according to the written instructions on the package.
- Pierce hot dogs and baking potatoes with a fork before putting them into the microwave oven to prevent them from exploding.
- Use potholders and open microwaved food away from the face. Hot steam escaping from a container of microwaved food or the food itself can cause burns.
- Stay focused when cooking. Ban snapchat and other social media use in the kitchen.
“To combat this decade old problem of civilian fire deaths here in Michigan, I’m excited to announce First Alert®, the most trusted and recognized fire safety brand in America, and E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. have formed an exclusive partnership along with our friends from the National Volunteer Fire Council, AARP Michigan, the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs, Michigan Mutual Aid Box Alarm System and the Michigan State Firemen’s Association,” said firefighter Michael McLeieer, president of E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc.
“These respected organizations have the expertise and resources to work together to create and release strategic messaging and provide the tools needed to change the behavior on how we practice fire safety and eliminate risks that cause home fires,” according to McLeieer.
Whether it’s smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers or home fire escape ladders, our team will work with firefighters and fire departments throughout Michigan to eliminate home fires and home fire deaths through a partnership called Keeping Michigan S.A.F.E.™ S.A.F.E. stands for Smoke Alarms For Everyone.
Tips to Stay Safe From a Home Fire
- Discuss fire safety and evacuation techniques with everyone in your home. Know two ways out of every room during fire or smoke conditions. Get Out and Stay Out!
- Once outside, make sure everyone goes to a designated meeting place. This could be a tree in the front yard, a neighbor’s house, a fence, driveway or even a sidewalk. This way the firefighters know everyone made it outside and they can quickly put out the fire.
- Never take personal belongings outside; that only slows down your rapid evacuation. Once outside, never go back in a burning or smoke-filled building for people, pets or things.
- Older adults who may turn off their hearing aid at nighttime when they go to bed are encouraged to purchase devices (such as a bed shaker or lamp flasher ) which work in tandem with most smoke alarms and recognize when their smoke alarm has activated.
- Practice your home escape map with everyone in your home, including those who may have difficulty self-evacuating due to a medical condition or physical limitations.
- Make sure you test your smoke alarms monthly, replace batteries in non long-life smoke alarms annually and replace alarms over 10-years old with new alarms.
By following these tips, you can protect what matters most. For more fire safety tips, visit www.escapeinc.org, www.escapetv.org or www.misafe.org. We’ll use the hashtag #KeepingMISafe on social media so it’s easier to learn what you can do to prevent home fires and avoid injury or death Where You Live.
This new partnership between the leading fire safety organizations will help to lower fire deaths in Michigan!
Article by Firefighter Michael McLeieer, president and founder of E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc.