2016 Fire Safety Week runs from October 9 through October 15. Home fires are the worst disaster threat to families in the United States. Not only do fires happen quickly, they devastate property and lives. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are as many as 365,000 residential fires reported in the U.S. every year, with many fires starting in the kitchen. We want to remind families how to demonstrate kitchen safety and some First Aid do’s and don’ts, if one were to ever get a burn.
Basic fire safety:
There are some basic fire safety measures that parents need to incorporate within their households. Establish a child-free zone in the kitchen, keeping children at a safe distance away from the stove and/or appliances that produce heat. Teach them what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one. Ensure they know two ways to escape from every room of your home, especially the kitchen where many fires ignite, and where to meet up outside. There should already be an evacuation plan in place and most importantly, fire drills should be practiced. It is vital to teach your children what to do in the event of a fire. Lastly, teach your children to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should ever catch fire.
Demonstrate kitchen safety:
- Do not wear loose clothing when cooking.
- Food should never be left unattended unless the stove is turned off. Remain in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you need to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, the stove should be turned off.
- Keep a close watch on the cooking process and use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove. This includes: dish towels, oven mitts, paper or plastic bags, wooden spoons and even curtains. Keep all flammable items not only away from the stove but away from anything that generates heat.
- Make sure to clean all cooking surfaces regularly to prevent buildup. Many times, grease or burnt food stuffs may cause the smoke alarms to go off.
- Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Learn how to properly use the equipment.
- Install a smoke alarm not only in the kitchen, but also on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms. Test your alarms each month and replace all batteries at least once a year.
- Last but not least, always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all appliances are turned off.
Key facts about burns:
- An estimated 265,000 deaths every year are caused by burns – the vast majority occur in low and middle-income countries.
- Burns usually occur in the home and workplace.
- Burns are preventable.
First Aid – DO’s:
- Stop the burning process by removing clothing and irrigating the burns.
- Extinguish flames by allowing the patient to roll on the ground, or by applying a blanket, or by using water or other fire-extinguishing liquids.
- Use cool running water to reduce the temperature of the burn.
- In chemical burns, remove or dilute the chemical agent by irrigating with large volumes of water.
- Wrap the patient in a clean cloth or sheet and transport to the nearest appropriate facility for medical care.
First Aid – DO NOT’s:
- Do not start first aid before ensuring your own safety (switch off electrical current, wear gloves for chemicals etc.)
- Do not apply paste, oil, haldi (turmeric) or raw cotton to the burn.
- Do not apply ice because it deepens the injury.
- Avoid prolonged cooling with water because it will lead to hypothermia.
- Do not open blisters until topical antimicrobials can be applied, such as by a health-care provider.
- Do not apply any material directly to the wound as it might become infected.
- Avoid application of topical medication until the patient has been placed under appropriate medical care.
We hope this brief article has given you better insight on how to prevent kitchen fires by demonstrating cooking safety and the do’s and do not’s of First Aid for a burn. For more fire safety information, please see the US Fire Administration site.