By Tom Kiurski
Editor’s note: Tom Kiurski wrote this as a fire prevention story for his local newspaper. You can adapt it into your own holiday safety message to your citizens or use it as you see fit.
As Thanksgiving approaches, many people will sit down to a delectable turkey dinner. Be sure to cook up some “fire safe common sense” to help ensure that tragedy does not come between you and your family gathering around the dinner table.
Keep your family and overnight guests safe with plenty of working smoke alarms. You should have one on every level in your home, one in every bedroom, and one in the halls outside any bedroom. The latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) tell us that 94 percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm and about one-fourth of them do not work, usually because of dead or missing batteries. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries every year.
Instruct overnight guests on your family fire escape plan and designated outside meeting place. Try holding a practice escape plan, especially if children are involved. If you have children in the home, they often like to help others learn the escape plan, so be sure to get them involved.
Every home should have a minimum of one ABC-rated fire extinguisher. Keep it near the cooking area, on the exit side of the room. To use any fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS -the acronym for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. If needed, Pull the lock pin or tape away from the operating mechanism, Aim the nozzle at the base of the flame, Squeeze the handle or button down, and Sweep from side to side until the fire is out.
Start holiday cooking with a clean stove, removing and buildup of grease that may be on the surface of the appliance. When cooking, use the back burners whenever possible, and keep pot handles turned in so they don’t extend over the stove where they can be easily bumped into.
With the increased use of turkey fryers, be sure to use them outdoors and away from combustible material. Place the fryer on a flat, stable surface and do not overfill the unit with cooking oil. Do not move the fryer once it has been started, and only place turkeys that are completely thawed out in them. Keep children away from the cooking unit, and use a thermometer to gauge food temperature. Make sure the oil is completely cool before removing it from the fryer, and never attempt to use water to extinguish or cool hot oil.
A little practice can go a long way when it comes to safety around the Thanksgiving holiday. Please practice safety all year long, and have a fire safe holiday.
Tom Kiurski is a paramedic/lieutenant and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999) is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.