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CPD, LFD warn of kitchen fires

October is Fire Prevention Month

Posted: October 29, 2013 5:43 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Both the Camden and Lugoff fire departments focused on kitchen fires during October’s National Fire Prevention Month.

According to Camden Fire Department (CFD) Asst. Chief Phil Elliott, kitchen fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S., followed second by heating fires.

“The Camden Fire Department is seeing this trend continue within our local community,” Elliott said. “The department has experienced 27 cooking-related fires this year alone, with three in two days last week.”

Elliott said the kitchen fires -- all of which he said could have been prevented -- caused an estimated $150,000 to area homes.

“Two of these fires have sent home owners to the burn center and left many with no place to stay. Unattended cooking is the largest factor in these fires. Many of these fires started due to the occupants falling asleep while waiting on the pans to heat up,” Elliott said.

He said other kitchen fires occur when occupants get distracted by the phone or computer. He suggested following the following fire safety rules when cooking:

• Stay Alert -- cook only when you alert; you won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicines or drugs that make you drowsy or have consumed alcohol.

• Watch What You Heat -- stay in the kitchen when you are frying, frilling or broiling food; do not leave the kitchen, even for a short time. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove and remove the pan from the burner.

• Keep Flammable Objects Away From the Stove -- remove grocery bags, papers, plastic cups, oven mitts, rags, etc., away from the stove. Cook with short or fitted sleeves or roll up long sleeves when cooking; loose-fitting clothes can catch fire.

• Keep the Stove Clean and in Good Working Order -- always keep a lid nearby when cooking. One of the best ways to extinguish a stove-top fire is to safely slide a lid over the pan and turn off the heat. Never try to carry the burning pan outside. <italic>Remember: never use water to extinguish a grease fire. </italic>

Elliott also said another important thing to do is making sure to have a working smoke detector outside the kitchen area.

“Remember to change the batteries at least once a year and to test it monthly,” he said. “Many smoke detectors in homes today are over 10 years old and need to be replaced. You can call your local fire department and they can help you with this.”

Elliott also said every home should have a fire extinguisher mounted in an accessible place outside the kitchen. Adults should be trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers.

Fires are not the only danger in the kitchen, Elliott said.

“Most burns and scalds happen in the kitchen. Beware of hot objects, liquids and steam. Always keep pot handles, hot foods and liquids away from the edge of counters. Remember to open hot pts and containers slowly and away from your face. Never let children play in the kitchen,” he said.

Elliott said anyone experiencing a kitchen fire -- even if they manage to put it out themselves -- should call 911.

“Firefighters have special thermal imagers and heat guns that can check for hidden fires in walls, ceilings and other concealed spaces,” Elliott said. “The fire department also has large fans that can help remove harmful smoke from your home.”

Elliott said the CFD is committed to helping prevent kitchen fires from occurring.

“We have a very active fire prevention team and our staff is willing to help answer any questions you may have,” he said.

Call the CFD at 425-6040 with any questions.

“Remember, winter time is almost here,” Elliott said. “Make sure your heating appliances are working correctly and you give them space to work.”

LFD visits schools

Earlier this month, during National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 6-12), Lugoff Fire Department (LFD) crews visited Lugoff schools to promote fire and fire safety initiatives to both students and adults. The focus, as with the CFD, was to “Prevent Kitchen Fires: Get Cooking With Fire Safety.” Firefighters spoke with pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade classes and Lugoff and Wateree elementary schools during the week.

“If you love your family, live to love them,” LFD Chief Dennis Ray said, emphasizing the importance of fire prevention and preparedness in the home.

LFD firefighters taught students and adults about exiting a home during a fire or smoke alarm event; how to meet at a family meeting place away from the home; the dangers of smoke from a fire; what to do if their clothes catch on fire; to <italic> never </italic> go back inside a home that’s on fire; not to stop and pick up toys or dolls on the way out of a home; the dangers of matches, lighters and candles; and how to stay low on the ground when exiting a home filled with smoke.

After the presentation, firefighters put on their gear in front of students, and each class visited fire trucks outside with fire crews.

“Our kids were so excited to have us there and listened so well to our life-saving message,” Ray said. “Our firefighters were quite interactive with the kids and we enjoyed the opportunity to share with them what we do and why we do it. The bonds we build with our kids today may just save their life tomorrow.”

As with the CFD, the LFD encourages all citizens to check their smoke detectors one a month and replace any more than 10 years old. For citizens who cannot afford to purchase smoke detectors, call the LFD at 438-2553 for assistance.


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