Overland Park Home Maintenance

October is Fire Prevention Month

A few years ago I had a fire in my kitchen and vowed to remind people about fire prevention month every October.

My microwave oven caught on fire and let me tell you, when you are seeing flames, that is not the time to search your mind for how to put out a kitchen fire.

My first thought was…should I call 911 or will this go out on its own? After all, it was in the closed microwave. But as I was standing there watching my food in flames – deep down inside I was quietly freaking out. And for the life of me I couldn’t remember what I should do. I knew I needed to act fast but my emotions were overruling my power to think things through.

Here are the rules for a kitchen fire:

  1. Have a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it (I failed both of these).
  2. If the fire is in the microwave or oven, keep the door closed and turn it off. The lack of oxygen will eventually put the fire out – or it should. If the smoke doesn’t stop and you’re freaking out like I was, call 911.
  3. If it’s a fire in a pan on the stove, cover the pan, move the pan off the burner and turn off the stove. There again, the lack of oxygen will kill the flames.
  4. If you feel the need to use your fire extinguisher, aim at the base of the fire, not the flame.
  5. For a grease fire, never use water or flour. Water will spread the fire and flour can explode. Use salt or baking soda or cover with a large wet towel. Or use your fire extinguisher.
  6. Last tip, have a fire evacuation plan and make sure everyone in the family knows what it is. Believe me when you see flames, there’s not much time to start with square one and think it through. Have a plan and know how to use it.

I printed this off, highlighted what I needed to remember and taped it inside my kitchen cabinet closest to the exit. I don’t want to dwell on this but should this happen again, I will know where the list is and I will know how to respond. Hope this helps you be prepared in case of a kitchen fire emergency.

Fire prevention

For your information, my home inspectors always say to have a smoke detector on every floor and in every bedroom. You should also have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home as well. Test all of them monthly and replace the batteries every 6 months.

Smoke alarms should be replaced every 8-10 years and CO alarms every 5 years. Buy a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it.

There are many ways to keep your family safe:

  • Use space heaters wisely – never leave them on when you are out of the room
  • Make sure the logs and embers in your fireplace are protected by a heavy screen. Never leave the house or go to bed until the fire is out. Never take a log out of the fireplace and place it back on the wood pile.
  • Prevent electrical fires by checking cords for damage. Never plug too many cords into a single socket. Don’t overload your electrical panel. Hire an electrician if necessary.
  • Do not leave your grill unattended and make sure the fire is completely out when you are finished cooking.
  • Never leave candles burning in another room. Candles are a leading cause of house fires.

What’s your plan?

If you don’t have a fire escape plan at home and at your place of business, now is the time to get one. Be sure everyone knows what to do in case of a fire and practice your escape plan a couple of times every year. Having a plan is the first thing you can for fire prevention month.

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