WESTFIELD—With Fire Prevention Week around the corner, the Westfield Fire Department wants to remind residents to be safe, especially when cooking.
Fire Prevention Week runs from Oct. 9 to 15 in Massachusetts, according to the State Fire Marshal, and awareness is being brought to having two ways out of a fire. In addition, Westfield Fire Deputy Chief and Fire Prevention Officer Eric Bishop wants residents to practice safe cooking at homes, which is the number one cause of fires in the home.
“Cooking fires were 49 percent of all fires reported in one- and two-family homes and 90 percent of fires in apartments, dorms and rooming houses,” Bishop said, citing information from the State Fire Marshal.
In fact, from the Department of Fire Services, there were a total of 10,181 fires related to cooking in the state in 2016, totaling an estimated $8.4 million in damages, and cooking was also the leading cause of residential injuries related to fires.
Bishop said that most cooking fires occur due to food that is unattended, so a key in preventing these kinds of fires is to be watchful and present when cooking.
“Stand by your pan,” Bishop said.
Other tips from Bishop include not wearing loose-fitting clothing when cooking, keeping pot and pan handles turned inward to prevent the potential for spills and to create a “3-foot child free zone” in the area of your stove.
If a fire does start in a pan, then Bishop said that a lid can be put onto the pan, or baking soda can be used to help smother the flame, but never throw water onto a grease fire.
However, another point that Bishop stressed was that firefighting should be done by professionals to reduce chance for injury.
“Majority of victims’ injuries happen when fighting fires,” Bishop said. “Leave the firefighting to trained professionals.”
Instead, Bishop suggests leaving the building immediately and calling 911.
And when leaving a place where a fire has occurred, whether it is cooking or otherwise, Bishop suggests that there be a plan for two ways out of a residence in the case of a fire. Also, Bishop suggests having a plan in place that includes a meeting place, which he said he has with his family.
Also, make certain that pathways are clear. This could be a problem not just in the case of a fire, but also in the case of other emergencies where first responders may need access somehow.
“You want to make sure your hallways and stairways are clear, not just for yourself but also for who you are visiting,” Bishop said.
If you visit someone and notice that ways of egress are hindered due to items or otherwise, Bishop suggests making sure paths are clear.
“Find a way to make it clear,” he said. “Instead of hoping that it gets done, take action.”
Also, be sure to have working smoke detectors.
“Working smoke detectors can double a family’s chance of surviving a fire,” Bishop said.