Burning Issues in the Kitchen…Watch What You Heat

The smell of a cake baking in the oven or a tasty soup simmering on the stovetop is difficult for both children and adults to resist.  However, cooking remains the number one cause of home fires in Michigan and across the United States.

That’s why National Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is a window of opportunity for organizations to mobilize burn, fire and life safety educators and unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in the community Where You Live.

“47% of all home fires are caused by cooking.  Adults over 65 are at a much higher risk of injury or death from a kitchen fire due to physical, visual, hearing or mental impairments that may slow the quick action necessary in a fire emergency,” according to Firefighter Michael McLeieer, president and founder of the non-profit fire safety charity E.S.C.A.P.E.  Inc.

“Thinner skin of older adults burns faster and deeper,” according to McLeieer.

Here are some tips to stay safe and prepared!

Plan A:  Primary Prevention

  • The best time to cook is when you are wide awake and not drowsy from medications or alcohol.
  • Always wipe clean the stove, oven, and exhaust fan to prevent grease buildup.
  • Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep a pan lid and dry potholders or oven mitts near you EVERY time you cook.
  • Turn pot or pan handles toward the back of the stove.
  • When heating food in the microwave, use microwave-safe cookware that allows steam to escape.
  • Allow food to rest before removing from the microwave.
  • When frying, use a pan lid or splash guard to prevent grease splatter.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.  If you leave, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or broiling food, check it regularly.  Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you to check on your cooking.
  • After cooking, check the kitchen to make sure all burners and other appliances are turned off.
  • Never use the oven for storage.

Plan B:  Secondary Prevention

If your food does catch on fire…

  1. Cover the pan with its lid.  A cookie sheet works too.  Leave covered until the pan is cool.  NEVER move the pot or carry it outside – the pot is too hot to handle and the contents may splash, causing a severe burn.
  2. Turn the heat off.  With the lid on and the heat off, the fire should quickly put itself out.  NEVER use water to put out a kitchen fire.  Water will cause the oil to splatter and spread the fire, or scald you as it vaporizes.
  3. If the fire is inside the oven or microwave, keep the door shut and turn it off.  Keep closed until the oven is cool.
  4. If the fire gets out of control- get out, stay out and call 9-1-1.  Don’t return inside for any reason.

National Burn Awareness Week is the perfect time to share this information, develop a fire escape plan, check your smoke alarms, and make your kitchen and entire home safe for those you care for where you live!  According to McLeieer, “preventing a burn injury is always better than the pain and trauma of medical treatment afterward.  For more information visit ameriburn.org/prevention/burn-awareness-week.



It’s #FirePreventionWeek!  This year’s theme is Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety! ™  E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. president and founder firefighter Michael McLeieer talks to Ken Lanphear on the WKZO AM 590 and FM 106.9 Morning Show about this year’s theme and steps you and your family can take to prevent a home fire and stay safe.

Here is a link to the live interview on Monday October 4, 2021 at 6:50 a.m.:

 

The next stop of the day was in Grand Rapids on eightWest at WOOD TV 8 at the downtown Media Art Center Studio inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum at Rosa Park Circle.

Here is the link to that broadcast:

 




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The most wonderful time of the year is also the most likely time of the year for home fires. Home fires during the holiday season often involve space heaters, candles, holiday decorations and Christmas trees. By taking some preventative steps, using common sense, and following some simple rules, most home fires can be prevented during the H.O.L.I.D.A.Y. season and beyond.

Listen to the interview between E.S.C.A.P.E.‘s founder Firefighter Michael McLeieer and Morning Show host Ken Lanphear on WKZO AM 590 and FM 106.9 at 7:50 am on December 21, 2020.

  • Have a home safety escape plan, practice two ways out of every room. One way out could be a door and the second way out could be a window.
  • Outside – Go outside to your family meeting place when the smoke alarm sounds and during fire or smoke conditions.
  • Lighters and matches are tools for adults not toys for kids. Make sure you secure them out of the reach of young and curious hands.
  • Inspect holiday lights and wiring for damage. Replace defective accessories.
  • Detectors – Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors make great gifts.
  • Always turn off a space heater and holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • You can take charge of your holiday safety Where You Live!


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‘Tis the season to water your Christmas tree daily to keep it from becoming dry. Also use care with candles and electric lights to keep this joyous time of year safe. More than 1 out of every 4 home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. A heat source too close to the tree causes 1 in every 4 of the fires.

 

  • Use flameless candles instead of real candles to prevent a home fire.
  • Create a 1-foot circle of safety (keeping anything that can burn away) if you decide to use real candles. Always blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Choose holiday decorations that are labeled flame retardant or not flammable.
  • Keep your live Christmas tree away from heat sources and room exits.
  • Place fireplace ashes in a metal container with a lid and place the container outside and away from buildings and other combustibles.

Remember as you deck the halls this season, be fire smart and don’t burn them down.

 



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October is Fire Prevention Month but it’s important your family is prepared and stays safe all year long!  The Keeping Michigan S.A.F.E.™ Installation Program has created a list of area smoke alarm and/or carbon monoxide alarm installation programs across West Michigan.  Check it out below!

Allegan County:

  • Dorr Township Fire Department – 616-681-9874
  • Fennville Area Fire Department – 269-561-2148
  • Ganges Township Fire Department – 269-227-3806
  • Graafschap Fire and Rescue – 616-396-4060
  • Salem Township Fire – 616-292-7789
  • Saugatuck Township Fire District – 269-857-3000
  • Wayland Fire Department – 269-779-2999

Barry County:

  • Yankee Springs Fire Department – 269-779-299

Branch County

Calhoun County:

  • Battle Creek Fire Department – 269-966-3519
  • Marengo Township Fire Department – 269-781-8422

Eaton County:

Kalamazoo County:

  • American Red Cross – 269-353-6180
  • Kalamazoo Township Fire Department – 269-888-2171 – tckowalski@ktwp.org
  • Portage Department of Public Safety – Fire Division – 269-329-4487

Kent County:

  • American Red Cross – 616-456-8661
  • Byron Township Fire Department – 616-878-9174 – mtilma@byrontwpfire.com
  • Cutlerville Fire Department – 616-455-7670
  • Dutton Fire Department  – 616-541-0119
  • Grand Rapids Fire Department – 616-456-3966
  • Kent City Fire Department – 616-678-4330 – kentcityfire@gmail.com
  • Kentwood Fire Department – 616-554-0800
  • Lowell Area Fire Department – 616-897-7354 – switherell@ci.lowell.mi.us
  • Walker Fire Department – 616-791-6840
  • Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan (must live in Grand Rapids, Kentwood, or Wyoming and have a resident child 14 years of age or younger. Both tenants and owners are eligible) – 616-241-3300 or email info@healthyhomescoalition.org.

Montcalm County:

  • Home Township Fire Department (Edmore) – 989-427-3211

Muskegon County:

  • Blue Lake Township Fire Department – 231-288-9220
  • Casnovia Township Fire Department  – 231-834-7066
  • Dalton Township Fire Department – 231-766-3277
  • Egelston Fire Department – 231-788-2254
  • Fruitport Township Fire Department  – 231-773-9312
  • Holton Township Fire Department – 231-343-6861
  • Montague Fire District Authority – 231-893-3311
  • Moorland Township Fire Department – 231-769-9402
  • Muskegon Charter Township Fire Department – 231-773-4316
  • Muskegon Heights Fire Department – 231-733-8893
  • Muskegon City Fire Department – 231-724-6795
  • North Muskegon Fire Department  – 231-744-1766
  • Norton Shores Fire Department – 231-799-6809 – nsfd.firemarshal@mcd911.net
  • Ravenna Fire Department – 231-638-1142
  • White Lake Fire Authority – 231-893-6503

Newaygo County:

Oceana County:

Ottawa County:

  • Allendale Fire Department – 616-895-6295, ext. 30
  • Coopersville/Polkton Fire Rescue – 231-638-1444 – DeputyFireChief@cpfd7004.org
  • Crockery Township Fire Department  – 616-837-6700 (fire station) or 616-837-6868 (township hall)
  • Grand Haven Department of Public Safety – 616-842-3460 mdilley@grandhaven.org
  • Spring Lake Fire Department – 616-215-1590

St. Joseph County:

  • White Pigeon Township Fire Department – 269-483-9414

Van Buren County:

For more information on fire safety or to find a smoke alarm installation program near your community, call toll free 1-844-978-4400 or email escape@wotv4women.com.

 



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E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc., an award-winning fire safety organization is teaming up with AARP Michigan, WOTV 4 Women, the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®), First Alert®, the National Volunteer Fire Council and the Michigan fire service for Fire Prevention Week 2020.  This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!™  The campaign runs from October 4-10 and works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

According to NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States.  Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen.  Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. “Cooking fires are preventable,” said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, president and founder of the non-profit charity E.S.C.A.P.E.  “It’s important that people stay in the kitchen when they are cooking, use a timer as a reminder when the food is done and avoid distractions such as electronics or televisions.  These are some of the important steps everyone can take to keep families safe in their homes,” according to McLeieer.

A cooking fire can grow quickly.  Each year many homes are damaged and people are injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. and AARP Michigan offer this recipe for Fire-Safe Cooking.

  • Keep an eye on what you fry.  Never leave cooking food unattended.  Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling.  If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • Stand by your pan.  If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert and awake when cooking.  Alcohol and some drugs can make you sleepy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking.  If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flames.  Turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or pull them over.
  • Have a “kid-free and pet-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities Where You Live, please contact your local fire department.  For more information about cooking fire prevention, visit www.nfpa.org/fpw or www.escapeinc.org.

 

 



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Interview with E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. president Lt. Michael McLeieer Monday September 29, 2020 at 8:50 a.m. on WKZO AM 590 or FM 106.9.

As the temperatures cool down outside, you may want to start a fire in the fireplace or turn on the furnace to stay warm, but is your chimney ready to handle the heat?

National Chimney Safety Week 2020 is September 27 – October 3 and is designed to educate homeowners on the inherent dangers of fireplaces and provide them with tips to reduce their risk of suffering a chimney fire or carbon monoxide-related health emergency.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), an average of 17,600 chimney fires occurred annually in the United States between 2015 and 2017, and although this represents a significant drop from previous years, the Chimney Safety Institute of America believes there’s still much room for improvement. CSIA’s vision is that every family enjoys a safe, warm home.

The Facts About Chimney Fires

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Your chimney–and the flue that lines it–adds architectural interest to your home, but its’ real function is to carry dangerous flue gases from your fireplace, wood stove or furnace safely out of your home.    As you relax in front of your fireplace or bask in the warmth of your wood stove, the last thing you are likely to be thinking about is the condition of your chimney.  However, if you don’t give some thought to it before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may be very short-lived.

Why?

Dirty chimneys can cause chimney fires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people. ​   Indications of a chimney fire have been described as creating: loud cracking and popping noise a lot of dense smoke, and an intense, hot smell ​Chimney fires can burn explosively – noisy and dramatic enough to be detected by neighbors or people passing by.  Flames or dense smoke may shoot from the top of the chimney.  Homeowners report being startled by a low rumbling sound that reminds them of a freight train or a low flying airplane.  However, those are only the chimney fires you know about.

Chimney fires are preventable.  When burning wood, only use dry, seasoned wood.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends chimneys be inspected annually and cleaned as-needed.  Having your chimney inspected by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep before lighting your first fire of the season, is the number one way to prevent potential damage to your home or even the loss of life that may result from a damaged or blocked chimney.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety reminds you with more than 1,800 CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps located across the United States, it has never been easier to find one near you.  To locate your nearest CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, visit www.csia.org/search and enter your zip code into the locator search tool.



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The above link is the live audio from the August 4th radio interview at 9:10 a.m. between Firefighter Michael McLeieer, founder of E.S.C.A.P.E. and Ken Lanphear, WKZO Morning Show host.

A fire in an office or store can be devasting to a community.  In addition to potential deaths and property loss, people may lose their jobs and the community may lose a vital service provided by the business.

The uncertain future caused by COVID-19 can also make the economic effect of a fire on a business much worse.  Some businesses may have a hard time recovering financially after being shut down for several months due to the pandemic.

Every year in the United States there are 17,000 office and store fires that cause over $800 million in direct property damage.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Cooking is the leading cause of office and store fires.  In 2018:

  • 33.2% of office and store fires were caused by cooking,
  • 10.9% were due to electrical malfunction,
  • 8.7% were due to heating,
  • 7.6% were caused by other unintentional reasons or carelessness, and
  • 7.1% were caused by appliances.

Many causes of office and store fires are the same as those for home fires.  Since emergencies happen when we least expect them, prevention and escape planning is essential.

The good news:  Modern building design and fire codes protect most offices and stores from fire.  However, according to ESCAPE Fire Safety, there are important fire safety practices that employees and employers should follow to help prevent workplace fires, keep workers safe and keep offices and stores open.

Employees should:

  • Check for damaged electrical cords and cables.  Don’t overload outlets and power strips.
  • Keep anything that can burn away from electrical equipment.
  • Never leave portable heating devices unattended.
  • Keep your workspace and equipment clean, dry and well ventilated.
  • Plan and practice multiple escape routes in case one is blocked.
  • Ensure windows can be opened and screens can be removed.
  • Remove any obstacles from exits.

Employers need to prepare for emergencies.

  • Make sure smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are properly installed and working.
  • Post clear fire escape plans on every level of a building.
  • Teach employees about exit locations, escape routes and fire protection equipment.
  • Check the condition of fire ladders and escapes.
  • Conduct regular emergency drills.

If there is a fire, building workers should:

  • Call 911.
  • Notify co-workers of the fire.
  • Never use the elevator if there is a fire or during a fire alarm activation.  Walk, don’t run, down the stairs.

If workers can’t evacuate, they should:

  • Seal door gaps with jackets.
  • Wait at the window.
  • Remain calm.

For more information on fire safety in a variety of workplaces, visit www.osha.org or www.escapeinc.org

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During the COVID-19 pandemic and Stay at Home order, fire departments and fire safety experts across Michigan and throughout the country have reported an increase in firesetting and a heightened interest in fire by youth and adolescents.

Nationwide, more than half of all intentionally set fires are started by youths under the age of 18. According to the United States Fire Administration, each year in this country fires set by children and adolescents are responsible for hundreds of fire deaths, thousands of painful burn injuries, and hundreds of millions of dollars in property loss. Young children are also the victims in these fires.

“Fires set by children are common and a problem affecting many families, said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, a leading fire safety expert and President of the non-profit organization E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. “While curiosity about fire is natural, firesetting is dangerous and deadly. It is not safe to think that youth firesetting is only a phase,” according to McLeieer.

Why Children and Adolescents Set Fires

Most experts agree that the best way to understand why fires are set is to look at the motivations for firesetting. Motives can involve curiosity, experimentation, a cry for help, thrill-seeking, willful intent to cause destruction, or from mental or emotional disorders.

Four Factors Influencing Firesetting

  • Easy access to lighters and matches— In many homes where a child or adolescent was involved in starting a fire, they easily discovered the matches or lighter or knew exactly where to find them. If you smoke, always keep your matches or lighter in your pocket or in other secure locations. Inform your child that you will be randomly checking his/her pockets, backpacks, and rooms for matches and lighters.07-05-2020 youth_firesetting_bg.1800x1200
  • Lack of supervision—Providing supervision is important. Parents are often shocked to learn their child was engaged in firesetting over a prolonged period of time.
  • Failure to practice fire safety—Young children, teens, and parents often lack understanding of the dangers associated with firesetting and safety rules about fire. Have clear rules rather than relying on vague threats or warnings.
  • Easy access to information on Internet—Technology has made explicit media available to youths about many dangerous and often illegal activities for them to replicate.

What To Do If You Suspect A Child Of Setting Fires

If you know of a child who is displaying firesetting behavior, the child and family are at a higher risk for suffering the consequences of fire. Remind the parent that they are not the only person to ever to face this problem. Have the parent or caregiver contact their local fire department immediately. Explain the situation to them. Many fire departments offer youth firesetting prevention and intervention programs.  Those departments that don’t offer comprehensive intervention may be able to refer the parent / caregiver to another agency that does offer these services.

Youth Firesetting Program Benefits Include:

  • A contact person in your area.
  • Determination of potential level of risk for repeat firesetting incidents.
  • Fire education for the youth and their family.
  • Referrals for additional services.

What Parents and Caregivers Can Do To Reduce Firesetting

  • Supervision by adults decreases the opportunity for youth to set fires.
  • Teach children of all ages that fires, even small ones, can spread quickly.
  • Teach young children that fire is a tool, not a toy, and only used by adults.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Always use fire with care and set a good example by using matches, lighters, and candles carefully.
  • Never use threats or scare tactics when talking to the child.
  • Teach children to show you when they find matches and lighters.
  • Teach older children proper techniques for using fire.
  • Point out to your children the fire safety rules you and others follow throughout the day.
  • Talk to your children about the legal consequences of firesetting.
  • Be sensitive to what the child may be feeling while addressing their firesetting behavior.
  • Provide love, comfort and compassion when talking to the child.07-05-2020 Mom&Girl

What Families Can Do To Prevent Fires

  • Regularly inspect your home for fire hazards.
  • Install and maintain working smoke alarms throughout your home.’
  • Plan and practice home fire escape drills that include two ways out from every room.
  • Install residential sprinklers in your home.

What Communities Can Do

  • Prevent firesetting in the first place by providing fire safety education from preschool through high school.
  • Raise awareness in your community about youth firesetting.
  • Form partnerships between local fire departments and private sector organizations to help support firesetting prevention and intervention programs.’
  • Support community-based programs to provide services such as fire safety education and counseling using community resources.
  • Educate parents/caregivers and all who work with children about where they can go for help about firesetting.

For Further Information:

Contact your local fire department or visit www.usfa.fema.gov or www.escapeinc.org



06-17-2020 Move Over WKZO

Listen to the live interview on June 17th with Firefighter Michael McLeieer from E.S.C.A.P.E. and WKZO Morning Show host Ken Lanphear about Safety Stand Down.

Did you know, according to the United States Fire Administration, twelve percent of on-duty firefighter fatalities occur each year while responding to or returning from incidents, with the majority of fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes?  Vehicle collision is the second leading cause of firefighter fatalities.

Each year during the third week of June, Safety Stand Down highlights critical safety, health and survival issues for the fire and emergency services.  The 2020 Safety Stand Down takes place June 14-20.  This year’s theme calls attention to the hazards that emergency responders face while performing their duties on roadways.  Operating in Michigan’s roadways continues to be some of the most treacherous incident scenes firefighters, police officers and emergency medical service providers respond to.

From 1996 to 2010, vehicle collisions claimed 253 firefighter lives and another 70 firefighters were lost as a result of being struck by a vehicle.  Between 1996 and 2010, vehicle collisions/struck-by-incidents accounted for 22% of all fatalities.

In June 2017, Comstock Township Fire Chief Edward Switalski was hit and killed by a passing vehicle while he was responding to a crash on eastbound I-94 in Kalamazoo County.  According to authorities, the driver of the vehicle was speeding and distracted by his cellphone at the time of the crash and hit Switalski while he was outside of his vehicle.

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Comstock Township Fire Chief Edward Switalski

“We all need to be alert and avoid reckless and distracted driving so our emergency responders are able to safely return home to their families after every emergency incident,” said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, Past President of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association and President of the non-profit safety organization E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc.

Here’s what you can do to keep you, your family and our emergency responders safe:

  • Avoid distractions while driving.  Distracting activities include using a cell phone and/or texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers or pets, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video, changing the radio station, CD or MP3 player, and loud music.
    • There are three main types of distraction:
      • Visual – taking your eyes off the road
      • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
      • Cognitive – taking your mind off of what you’re doing
  • If have a minor accident, you’re not seriously injured and your vehicle is able to be driven, move it off the roadway.  Avoid stepping out into traffic.
  • Pull to the right for sirens and lights.  Slow down and pull off the roadway when you see or hear emergency vehicles approaching.
  • Slow Down! And Move Over.  Motorists are required to slow down and move over for stationary emergency vehicles when their lights are activated.  This includes fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, tow truck operators, solid waste haulers, utility service vehicles and road service and maintenance vehicles.  If a motorist is unable to move over into an adjacent lane, then Michigan law requires the motorist to slow down to at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit and pass with caution, giving the emergency vehicle as much room as possible.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety urges Michiganders to focus on your driving and avoid distractions so you, your passengers and our emergency responders can remain safe and injury free!

For more information on the 2020 Safety Stand Down, visit www.safetystanddown.org.