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NewsTribune photo/Katlyn Rumbold Princeton fire chief Chuck Woolley recommends checking smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to be sure they’re in working order. To ensure everyone’s safety, even outside the kitchen, he is telling people to be aligned with and aware of burning policies when burning leaves or other yard waste.
By the numbers:
Since 2010, more than 5,300 home fires have started in the kitchen area throughout the state. Those fires have resulted in 43 fatalities and 361 injuries and a total dollar loss of close to $78 million. In this year alone, 793 of those fires have claimed two lives and injured 47.
PRINCETON — Fire Prevention Week is well underway and will continue through Saturday.
As part of this year’s Fire Prevention Week, the National Fire Protection Association has launched a national campaign to prevent house fires. This year’s campaign is titled “Reduce Kitchen Fires,” as cooking has been reported as the top cause of home fires and home injuries nationwide.
Working with the NFPA to provide the public with safety tips to promote safe cooking and kitchen habits for the entire family are the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal and local fire departments.
Princeton fire chief Chuck Woolley confirmed that this statistic remains true in Bureau County and surrounding areas. He said most of the fires his department respond to are cooking related fires, however most of the fires are extinguished early because people seem to be doing all the right things prior to them even getting there.
“It seems like, in our area, a lot of the fires are confined to the stove, or people have put them out with baking soda prior to us getting there,” Woolley explained before jumping into a series of precautionary measures people can take to prevent these types of fires. “I would say the biggest safety tip is to have a fire extinguisher close by and to keep flammables along the stove and oven at a safe distance. Make sure you have smoke detectors in place at a safe distance from the kitchen area itself so it can give you early detection if there is a fire.”
If allowing children to cook or cooking around kids, Woolley advised adult supervision is a must, especially if the kids are actually using kitchen appliances including the oven and stove. And if grease fires happen to arise, he said never to extinguish with water. “If people do have grease fires in pans, either put a lid on it or put baking soda on it. The water will make it spread. If there is a fire within the stove or oven area, make sure you keep the oven shut. Turn it off, unplug it, and call 911. That way, it will keep the fire in the oven. Ovens should be checked periodically by trained individuals to make sure they’re working properly.”
The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal added creating a ‘kid-free zone’ of at least three feet around the stove and oven where hot food is prepared could help prevent fire-related tragedies.
Additionally, State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis was quoted in a press release put out by the OSFM saying, “We cannot stress enough the importance of having working smoke alarms in different parts of the house and a home sprinkler system if possible. Every member of the family should follow fire safety tips and be involved in the family’s collective effort to prevent house fires.”