The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 5, 2013

Fire chief offers fire prevention knowledge

Losing a house to a fire can devastate a family. Homes contain tangible and intangible possessions, from coveted keepsakes to irreplaceable memories.

While fires are destructive and unapologetic, they can sometimes be prevented with proper fire education, explains Beckley Fire Department Chief Billie Trump.  

Oct. 6-12 marks the 2013 Fire Prevention Week, a week intended to educate, strengthen and articulate the how-tos of proper fire preparation and prevention. This year’s theme is “Let’s Get Cookin,” and focuses on kitchen fire prevention.

“More fires start in the kitchen than in any other part of the home,” said State Fire Marshal Anthony Carrico. “It’s important to help people how to keep cooking fires from starting in the first place. You need to stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.”

“We want to raise awareness of fire prevention to everyone, but especially target our youth audience and teach fire prevention methods to them at a young age,” said Trump.

Beckley Fire Department is launching a poster contest for elementary-aged students to encourage children to embrace the subject and exercise their creativity in turning the concept to life on paper. At the end of the week, the posters will be collected for judging by the Beckley Fire Department. Prizes will be award to the most creative pieces.

Furthermore, firefighters will travel to various elementary and Head Start programs in the county, exposing children to fire trucks and safety equipment.

“We want to show kids a fire truck and what a firefighter looks like in his uniform. Kids can see a firefighter and get scared of the intimidating garb he’s wearing, and we want them to know that firefighters are only there to help them,” said Trump.

Simple tips to prepare for and prevent kitchen fires include:

- Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

- Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home (including the basement).

- Test smoke alarms at least monthly. Replace all smoke alarms older than 10 years old.

- Make a home escape plan. Discuss the plan and practice it with your family.

- If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets.

- Call the fire department from outside your home.

If you have a kitchen fire:

- Keep a lid nearby when you are cooking to smother all grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

- Keep baking soda and a fire extinguisher near the stove. In the case of small grease fires, baking soda can help smother the fire.

- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door to the oven closed.

- If the fire is too much, get out and stay out. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 once outside.

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To learn more about “Fire Prevention Week — Prevent Kitchen Fires!” visit www.firepreventionweek.org.  

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com

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