October 6-12 is Fire Prevention Week!


By: Beth von Behren on September 25, 2013 Print This Post

When I was in my early 20s, still in college, I had this wonderful old, comfortable white terry-cloth robe.  It was thick and plush and warm.  I wore it all the time around the house, sometimes even over regular clothes just to stay warm.  It had one drawback:  It had long, floppy, loose sleeves.  They seemed to be constantly getting in the way, so I would roll them up or push them back.  One morning when I was up early making breakfast on a gas stove, without thinking I reached over the front burner, which was flaming, for something on a back burner, and caught the sleeve of that great robe on fire.  To this day, I’m still not sure if I stood there staring at it because I was still groggy from sleep, or if I am one of those people who reacts to these things by not reacting, but in any event, I stood there looking at my sleeve on fire for what was probably only seconds but was long enough to put me in danger, when my husband came rushing over, pulled the robe off of me, and stomped out the fire.  (It’s a good thing our apartment window faced a wall since I was post-shower naked underneath, not that I cared at that moment.)

The fire gets underway at the annual Kirkwood Fire Department demonstration at the Greentree Festival.

I think of this story whenever I hear about an older person, or any person, catching the sleeve of a robe or other loose clothing on fire while cooking.  You don’t have to be elderly to have this happen (although it happens more frequently to older adults).  You just have to be momentarily careless or distracted.  The best way to avoid catching yourself on fire is to not wear loose clothing while cooking.  This is why every morning after I take the dogs out, I take my robe OFF before starting to cook breakfast, because while my current robe is thin and satiny (our priorities change as we get older), it is still very loose and would flame up MUCH faster and bigger than that old thick cotton one did. I would be a goner for sure.

Kitchen fires can start in other ways too, of course, including leaving something on a stove top burner unattended.  In a couple of weeks, the Kirkwood Fire Department will join forces with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind residents to “Prevent Kitchen Fires” during their annual Fire Prevention Week (October 6 to 12).  According to the latest NFPA research, cooking is the leading cause of home fires.  Two out of every five home fires begins in the kitchen – more than in any other place in the home. Cooking fires, according to a NFPA press release, are also the leading cause of home fire-related injuries.

“Often, when we’re called to a fire that started in the kitchen, the residents tell us that they only left the kitchen for a few minutes,” said Kirkwood Fire Department Captain Steve Knapp. “Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. We hope that Fire Prevention Week will help us reach folks in the community before they’ve suffered a damaging lesson.”

So here are the KFD’s Tips for Avoiding Fires in the Kitchen:

1) Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food.

2) If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the burner.

3) When you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home, and use a timer to remind you.

Kirkwood Fire Marshal Leo Meyer (r) oversees the demonstration while one of the City’s firefighters puts out the fire.

4) If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.

5) When you cook, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves.  Loose clothing can catch fire near an open flame.

6) Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels, and anything else that can burn away from your stove top.

7) Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops. Do not store items inside the oven or on the stove top.

Be safe out there!

THANK you to Kirkwood Fire Captain Steve Knapp, who wrote parts of this blog post!

KFD Captain Steve Knapp




Written by Beth

Beth von Behren is the Public Information Officer for the City of Kirkwood. She manages the City Website (KirkwoodMO.org) and writes/edits both the monthly "Eye on Kirkwood" (published on the last Friday of the month inside the "Webster-Kirkwood Times") and the every-other-weekly e-newsletter "Kirkwood Happenings." To sign up for the e-newsletter, send an email to Info@KirkwoodMO.org.

Website: http://www.kirkwoodmo.org