I don’t really like to begin my articles with a pop quiz, but in light of Fire Prevention Week (October 7 – October 13) – since passed, I believe that basic fire prevention education is timeless and crucial, so, I encourage you to take the quiz at the following link:
In a previous article in February, I shared my verklempt experience with a small fire in my home caused by a cheese-topped bagel stuck in the toaster. While I was in the shower, the smoke detector began shrieking. However, I attributed the cacophonous alarm to the steam coming from the shower - though the detector was on the other side of the house.
I totally discounted the warning! Had it not been for my son, Juan's, shrieking insistence that a corner of the kitchen cupboard was ablaze, I would’ve further delayed checking the source of smoke. Drenched, I threw on my robe, running across the house on the tile floor, slipping and sliding all the way. The checklist
running through my head didn’t compute. For a second, I thought my son was
OVER-REACTING, after all, a harmless, over-sized bagel stuffed into the toaster couldn’t possibly wreak the bright, orange flames I saw lighting up the kitchen. Now that I think about it, there was little smoke and even less, radiant heat, but there was FIRE!
Since 1990, COOKING has ranked as the No. 1 cause of REPORTED home fires (I extinguished the burning bagel by unplugging the toaster and dousing the appliance in the kitchen sink. Viola! The cupboard stopped burning, too. I didn’t call the fire department). Nevertheless, UNATTENDED COOKING is the leading cause of fires, as two out of three begin with the ignition of cooking materials: food (bagels), cooking oil, fat (cheese topping), and grease (let’s be careful with those deep fryers over the holidays, too). As winter weather and roasty-toasty festivities loom around the corner, heating equipment, including chimneys, CURRENTLY rank second.
Malfunction, disrepair and misplacement of such can cause home fires, according to the NFPA. The BIGGEST, contributing factors are CREOSOTE BUILDUP in the chimney. As well, portable (heating fans) AND fixed space heaters (wood stoves) placed too close to combustible items like clothing, bedding and paper have been the core fuel for many a blaze. Sometimes, home heating equipment can take creative shape. Floor heaters are really mega-blow dryers and can heat a room nicely. If you use one in your home or office, be cognizant of placing it in a clearing.
I know we’re experiencing some hard times out there, folks, but PLEASE don’t use a barbecue or an oven to heat your home (confined space). Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is irrefutably poisonous, totally colorless and certainly odorless, hence, CO detectors can be useful warning devices.
Did you know that the natural gas in your home has the added, sulfur-based odor, MERCAPTAN (sniff…rotten eggs) AND a blue dye to visibly detect its presence? A YELLOW FLAME indicates a carbon monoxide emission. The
Gas Company (Sempra) offers programs to check your heating unit or to
manage the fees (or both): http://www.sempra.com
Can you say, “holiday lighting?” How about, “holiday candles?” Whether or not you’re untangling those darned, endless, strings of blinking color to decorate your roof line, 49% of home electrical fires involve LIGHTING EQUIPMENT. In 2010, electrical failures or malfunctions resulted in $1.5 BILLION in property damage, 420 deaths and 1,520 injuries, nationwide, according to the NFPA.
Candles always add a nice ambiance and a lovely aroma in your home, but more
than half of candle fires begin when combustible items come in DIRECT CONTACT with a mesmerizing flame. Haven’t you heard that before? I thought so. Have you noticed a potentially dangerous pattern? How about key words such as: unattended; too close; disrepair; malfunctioning?
I can cite NFPA stats until the cows come home, but a better approach is to suggest that YOU AND YOUR FAMILY (PETS) HAVE A MAPPED OUT AND PRACTICED EXIT STRATEGY WITH TWO WAYS OUT – WHEREVER YOU’RE CALLING HOME.
The aforementioned NFPA website has innumerable, fire prevention resource links. Take a peek. While you’re at it, take a peek at the accompanying video showcasing YOU – THE COMMUNITY -- milling about with some of Murrieta’s firefighters and their youthful, illustrious Explorers at MFD's Annual Open House, Oct. 27. As always, the hospitality was exceeded only by the great-tasting, barbecued hot dogs. Thanks.
I’d close out by writing that Oct. 31 marked the end of Fire Prevention Month, but wouldn’t you agree that fire safety awareness is a good thing, all year long?
Harvest festival or Halloweenie, share some candy in betweenie. Trick or Treat!