By Edward Chavez, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire PreventionSeptember 26, 2019
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Now that summer has comes to a close, we need to ensure that our vigilance does not wain in terms of fire prevention. We are starting the high times for cooking fires with the holidays right around the corner.
The National Fire Protection Association reports there were more than 150,000 house fires that involved cooking equipment in a recent four-year study. Those fires caused an average of 400 deaths and more than 5,000 fire-related injuries.
The cooking stove was involved in more than half of the fires as the point of origin. More than 30 percent of the housing fires started on stoves that were unattended.
As many cope with kids back in school, families will provide their kids the opportunity and freedom to make something to eat after school. The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Prevention team hopes that as part of that freedom you ensure they are prepared.
Cooking of any kind can be dangerous even for adults, so let's start with lesson number one. When cooking, it's best that there are no phones, laptops, tablets and video devices allowed in kitchen.
You don't need any distractions.
Most food items that need to be prepared have the directions attached. The JBLM Fire Prevention team discourages children frying foods of any kind. In fact, the team encourages children to be limited in cooking.
Here are a couple additional items that should be taught including microwaving:
• Keep anything that could burn away from the stove top.
• Ensure the stove top is clean before turning any residue could ignite.
• When using a microwave, ensure nonmetal items are in them, including foiled candy.
• Anything you prepare in the microwave will be extremely hot.
• If you have a fire in the stove or microwave, turn the power off.
If children are home alone, they should know how to call 911 in the event of an emergency. Ensure they know the address, including the street name and the phone number. Most importantly, teach the children to call 911 before calling anyone else.
Have you as a family practiced your home fire evacuation plan? If not now is the time.
You should practice the plan more than once a year, and also try doing it in the hours of darkness.
Is the smoke alarm operating as designed and when was the last time you tested it? Now is the time to test it.
Have you checked with the neighbors to see if their home could be used as a safe place in the event of an emergency?
Another fall fire prevention safety tip concerns the use of heating devises such as space heaters. Many folks contact the JBLM Fire Prevention team about the use of them.
On JBLM if you need a space heater at your work station, the first thing you need to do is contact the Directorate of Public Works Energy Conservation Division at 253-966-1772 or 253-966-9011. They will provide the guidance on receiving authority to use them.
The JBLM Fire Prevention team can help in using them safely. The main concern is the location. Heaters should be at least 3 feet from any combustible material.
Do not place under desks or in exit paths. And be sure the heaters are plugged directly into wall outlets -- not through an extension cord.
HAUNTED HOUSE PREPARATIONS
Is your unit planning on a haunted house event? JBLM regulation 420-30 and NFPA 101 requires any special event conducted in nonassembly occupancies -- such as offices, motor pools, barracks -- not in your personal single family home, are required to have a special event permit issued through the JBLM Fire Prevention team. Call 253-966-7164 at least 14 duty days prior to the event and for more information.
If you are having a Halloween event at you residence, limit the amount of combustible items -- hay bales, corn stocks and the scary decorations. Many of the decorations today do not require to use open flames so limit them. Also limit outdoor decorations that need to be plugged in, and ensure extension cords are rated for outdoors.
Don't allow them to become tripping hazards, and don't over load them.
Fire Prevention Week this year is Oct. 7 to 11. This year's theme is "Not Every Hero wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape."
NFPA is recommending everyone plan and practice an escape plan. The JBLM Fire Prevention team will have a variety of events planned for the child development centers on base. There will also be displays at McChord Field Exchange along with at the Lewis Main Commissary.
For more information, call the JBLM Fire Prevention team at 253-966-7164 or look for them on Facebook.