The kitchen is the heart of many homes – and it is also where many fires start.October is Fire Safety Month. This year, the focus is on fire prevention measures in the kitchen, where many avoidable residential fires ignite.In Strathmore, 24 residential fires started in the kitchen between 2007 and 2016, according to provincial fire data. In 2011 and 2012, most Alberta home fires started in kitchens (15 and 20 per cent of home fires, respectively), according to the Alberta Fire Commissioner’s Statistical Report, 2011-2012.The most important step to prevent kitchen fires is to never leave the kitchen when using the stove or oven, explained Thomas Jukes, Wheatland County’s deputy regional fire chief. “That way, if something does start, you get that early notification,” he said.One of the simplest and most effective prevention tools is a pot lid, accessible nearby. “If there’s a grease fire, put the fire out by simply putting the lid on.”But residents can also prepare by getting an ABC-class fire extinguisher, if they are capable and comfortable enough to use one. These devices, available at any hardware store, can be invaluable in extinguishing a fire and stopping its spread.Smart approaches in the kitchen can also help prevent avoidable injuries. When cooking, the handles of pots and pans should be turned inwards, to stop children from reaching up and pulling them off the counter and potentially scalding themselves. Not wearing loose clothing, especially long, baggy sleeves, can also prevent clothing from inadvertently catching fire from exposure to a lit element, he explained.Setting the clocks back is a good reminder to change the batteries of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, noted Michael Bourgon, Wheatland County’s manager of emergency and fire services. It is recommended that at least one smoke alarm be installed on every level of a home, including basements.Outside the home, Bourgon advises homeowners to adhere to FireSmart recommendations (www.wildfire.alberta.ca/firesmart/), including keeping any burnable materials 100 feet from any structure, keeping lawns maintained and trimmed, and using spark arrestors when using a fire pit.There is currently a fire ban advisory in Wheatland County, but once it is lifted, residents must attain a burn permit to light fireworks or fires other than small recreational fire pits, incinerators, burning barrels and other exemptions.Wheatland FCSS is holding a smoke, fire and safety “lunch and learn” workshop at noon on Oct. 21. This session, held at the Wheatland County Municipal Operations Centre, is free to all Wheatland County residents.
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