By Matt de Simone
Botetourt County Fire & EMS Chief Jason Ferguson presented the Board of Supervisors at the September meeting with a proclamation deeming October 8-14 as Fire Prevention Week. The 2023 Fire Prevention Week theme, “Cooking safety starts with you. Pay attention to fire prevention,” effectively serves to remind citizens to stay alert and use caution when cooking to reduce the risk of kitchen fires.
In proclamation, found in the September agenda packet, explains that fire is a serious public safety concern both locally and nationally, and homes are the home fires killed more than 2,800 people in the United States in 2021, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Fire departments in the United States responded to 338,000 home fire locations where people are at greatest risk from fire.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States and fire departments responded to more than 166,400 annually between 2016 and 2020. Two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen with 31% of these fires resulting from unattended cooking. More than half of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves. Children under 5 face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire.
County emergency staff asks Botetourt residents to turn pot handles toward the back of the stove; always keep a lid nearby when cooking; keep a three-foot kid-free zone around the stove, oven, and other things that could get hot; watch what they heat; and set a timer to remind them that they are cooking. Residents who have planned and practiced a home fire escape plan are more prepared and will therefore be more likely to survive a fire.
The proclamation goes on to explain that working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires almost in half. It notes that Botetourt County’s first responders are dedicated to reducing the occurrence of home fires and home fire injuries through prevention and protection education.
To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, visit nfpa.org.