Safety first

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 19:00
AFD offers fire prevention tips for the holiday season

The holiday season offers a chance to spend time with friends and family, exchange gifts and take a break from our hectic schedules.

It’s also a time of increased risk for fires.

With a full house of guests, it’s easy to leave the kitchen unattended, said James Gray, fire marshal for the Anchorage Fire Department. But, he said, people need to be cognizant of what they’re cooking.

“Don’t forget about what you’ve got on the stove,” Gray said.

Young children should be kept away from cooking appliances, the state’s Division of Fire and Life Safety said in a press release. Use back burners when possible and keep pot handles turned to the inside so they won’t be knocked over.

Ensure stoves and other appliances are turned off before leaving home or going to sleep, Fire and Life Safety said.

Cooking incidents were the second leading cause of residential structure fires in Alaska last year, Gray said.

Should a fire occur in a pan, turn off the burner and apply a lid to the pan, Fire and Life Safety said. Do not carry a pan that’s on fire.

Also, don’t attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water, as it will only cause the flames to spread.

If a fire occurs in the oven, turn the heat off and keep the door closed to cut off the fire’s air supply, Fire and Life Safety said.

Cooking can also cause smoke detectors to go off for false alarms, Gray said. Should that occur, the smoke detector needs to be relocated, he said.

Do not just remove the batteries, Gray said. Having working smoke detectors is the most important safety precaution people can take, he said.

“Of all the stuff that we teach, smoke detectors will save your life and your property,” Gray said. “That’s really the biggie.”

If deep-fried turkey is for dinner, keep the fryer outside and do not overfill it with boiling oil, Gray said. Also, the turkey shouldn’t be wet or frozen when it’s put into the oil.

Keeping a fire extinguisher close by is also a good idea, Fire and Life Safety said.

Once the bird is finished cooking, be sure to turn the fryer off, Gray said.

Christmas trees can also be fire hazards. Dried out live trees are extremely flammable, Gray said.

“If you’ve got a live tree, be sure and keep it watered,” he said. “They suck up a huge amount of water.”

Electrical fires are also common around the holidays, Gray said.

Avoid overloading sockets with several extension cords. That’s a recipe for an electrical fire, he said.

Also, keep extension cords away from high foot-traffic areas, Gray said.

Last year, heating related incidents were the leading cause of residential fires in the state, Gray said. Cooking and heating related incidents accounted for nearly 75 percent of Alaska’s total reported residential structure fires, according Fire and Life Safety.

If an additional heat source is being used, Gray said, be sure nothing combustible is nearby. Fire and Life Safety recommended keeping decorations and/or any other flammable materials at least 36 inches from heat sources.

Taking the necessary precautions can prevent fires over the holidays, Alaska State Fire Marshal Kelly Nicolello said in a press release.

“Fire safe behavior can keep a fire from starting,” Nicolello said. “Working smoke alarms, planning and practicing your fire escape plan, and adding residential fire suppression sprinklers can ensure your family’s safety from a fire that occurs during the holidays.”

More fire safety tips can be found at the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department website

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