Are you ready? Facts and figures (loss $$$$$’s) have shown us that kitchen fires and kids playing with matches produce millions of dollars in property losses and many fatalities over the last several years in Public Housing. In fact these are the two leading causes of loss. Are you ready? Are you completing routine property inspections? Is your property protected? Are your residents educated on fire safety? All of these are essential in fire prevention and protection of your property. Most people believe "fires can only happen to other people – not to me and not in my home". Yet, over 80 percent of fire deaths occur in the home, most claiming the lives of the young, the elderly and the disadvantaged. You can make a difference…
Make your property fire-safe. In addition to cooking, careless smoking / kids playing with matches or lighters you should considered other fire factors especially during this time of the year. More specifically dry Christmas trees, misuse of extension cords, portable heaters and cooking appliances, as well as improper storage of flammable or combustible materials. All of these are fire factors or should we say loss causes. Now let’s talk about loss control.
For prevention of kitchen fires your first line of defense is the installation of an automatic fire suppression system properly mounted in the vent hood over the cook stoves. However, if this is not feasible you should advise your residents to consider at least the following safety tips:
When cooking never leave food, especially grease unattended on the stove.
If a fire should start in a stove-top pad, cover it with a lid and turnoff the heat source.
Turn pot and pan handles inward so children won’t pull them down from the stove.
Keep a fire extinguisher near stove, one that can be use for grease or electrical fires.
Safety inspections that focus on property, liability and life safety are an essential element of loss control. Inspections that focus on, hot water heaters and storage rooms, electrical hazards, appliances, misuse or over-use of extension cords, in addition to storage of flammable or combustible materials and when properly reported and addressed those with deficiencies can reduce your loss. Smoke detectors are for fire detection only and each unit should be tested on a routine basis.
In regards to fire safety education, more specifically kids and matches, in Mississippi we do have a resource available with a relationship with NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Ms. Tammy Moore, Public Relations Officer is the past president of the MS Fire Safety Educators Program. And is very active in the state of MS putting on the NFPA Learn Not to Burn Fire Safety Program.
This program is presented in many schools and low income housing residents. Ms. Moore has studied the frequency of fires related to children playing with matches and kitchen fires. Ms. Moore has also studies the tendencies that children and juveniles, who grow up in low income housing have towards becoming fascinated with fire and their development into firesetters.
The Learn Not to Burn program is geared towards children; however, she has reading materials and videos for the parents that can be distributed. The video "A Lighter is not a Toy" is the NFPA’s best video for helping parents realize the consequences associated with leaving smoking materials around children.
Ms. Moore, will work with Executive Directors and Maintenance employees to follow through and make sure that smoke detectors are being used properly and the fire safety message continues to reach the residents. Should you choose to taken advantage of this fire safety program you may reach Ms. Tammy Moore at (601) 765-5110.
Arthur J. Gallagher of MS Loss Control