Campaign to cut down on cooking related incidents
Cooking related incidents account for about 1/3 of the 3,500 structural fires occurring each year in Prince Georges County, and for just over 1/5 of all residential fires in the state of Maryland.
In an effort to reduce the numbers of these highly preventable fires, the Prince Georges County Fire Department targeted its fire awareness program to the dangers of leaving cooking materials unattended. The educational campaign, which was part of the department’s fire prevention week activities, involved on-duty firefighters distributing fire safety and smoke detector brochures, presentations and lectures at civic clubs and schools, and radio and television announcements.
Some of the department’s safety/ prevention hints included suggestions to use loud sustained timers as reminders to turn off cooking appliances, warnings against wearing loose fitting apparel, as well as instructions about what to do if a fire does occur.
Over the past three years, 44 civilians in Prince Georges County sustained burn injuries as a result of cooking incidents. Nationwide, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association, cooking incidents are the second leading cause of fire in oneand two-family dwellings and the leading cause of fire in apartment buildings.
The fire department coupled their cooking safety program with their ongoing smoke detector awareness campaign. The fire department was instrumental in getting legislation passed in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Prince Georges County to make smoke detectors mandatory in all residences. According to a department spokesman, there were 100 fire deaths in the county between 1974 and 1978. Between 1979 and 1983, there was a 20% reduction in fire deaths.