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National Fire Prevention Month: WFD shares tips to prevent house fires

Updated: Oct. 4, 2020 at 2:36 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - October is National Fire Prevention Month. Sunday kicks off National Fire Prevention Week.

Fire Prevention Week is always observed each year during the week of Oct. 8-10 in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire that killed hundreds, burned thousands of structures and scorched 2,000 acres of land.

“There’s so much to talk about that really it has spread over the course of the month and the Wilmington Fire Department believes that it it’s fire prevention day every single day, too,” said Wendy Giannini-King, the Community Risk Reduction Coordinator for the Wilmington Fire Department.

This week’s theme is “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.” All week long, the WFD will post videos and information on their Facebook regarding fire prevention.

Today marks the start of #FirePreventionWeek! Check out this short video that Station 8 cooked up in honor of this year's theme! #ServeUpFireSafety #FPW2020

Posted by Wilmington, NC Fire Department on Sunday, October 4, 2020

“Cooking is the number one cause of fires in people’s homes,” said Wendy. “And that’s not just in the United States of America. That’s in Wilmington too. Those are the same stats for us. The number one reason the firefighters respond to homes, um, related to cooking has to do with the kitchen.”

Wendy says there are three main factors when it comes to kitchen fires: high heat, distractions, and using grease or oil.

“Everybody needs to know that high temperatures are too high,” said Wendy. “That grease and oil are a bad idea. I know it’s delicious, but it’s a bad idea. And then distracted as well. Put the phone away, out of the kitchen... tell the kids to give you 15 minutes to finish what you’re doing. Stay distraction free.”

Wendy says for those who are caregivers, or someone who easily forgets or is just bad at cooking, there is technology out there to help prevent kitchen fires from happening.

“You could look up smart burner online,” said Wendy. “With a smart burner, it can be installed by you. It doesn’t take any special electrician on your stove top and it literally eliminates stove top fires. So educationally stick with what you’re cooking lower, your temperatures don’t use grease and oil unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

But fires can happen anywhere in the home, not just in the kitchen.

“Anything that gets hot, has potential to cause a fire,” said Wendy. “Especially if you leave it in the plug or, or turned on or burning, um, when you’re not there, that’s a bad situation. So as we move into the, into the season where everyone wants this lovely scent going on and then your home, just make sure that you recognize the risk that you’re running.”

This includes hair heat tools like curling irons or straighteners. Clothes dryers, humidifiers, nightlights, etc.

Wendy says the reason the fire department works so hard to prevent fires is twofold.

“If the Wilmington fire department can create, if all the fire service can create, safe customers, safe stakeholders, safe community members, then by default, the firefighters are safer people," said Wendy. “They don’t have to wash their gear and risk cancer from vendor from a dirty fire. They don’t have to run in emergency traffic and interrupt the flow of other cars moving down the road way. They’re infinitely safer if they just get to stay home or better yet, go out to your schools and your churches and do those fun prevention things that are much safer than having to respond to a true emergency, especially when it’s fire related.”

Wendy says this time should also serve as a reminder to check your smoke alarm batteries. If you need a new smoke alarm, the Wilmington Fire Department offers free smoke alarms and alarm installation to residents inside the Wilmington City limits.

“It boils down to the fact that fire is everybody’s fight," said Wendy. "It starts with you.”

With the pandemic still going on, the fire department isn’t hosting events like they normally would this month. Wendy says the fire department can provide materials or come do some training on fire safety and prevention. Just email wendy.giannini.king@wilmingtonnc.gov or call her at 910-342-2731.

WFD is hosting a Flip Grid Scavenger hunt for Fire Prevention Week. To participate, click here.

For more information on preventing cooking fires, click here.

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