The Fire Prevention team is cooking up some excitement for Fire Prevention Week 2020, themed “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, October 4 – 10.
The goal of Fire Prevention Week is to involve people, children and adults alike, to learn how to stay safe in case of a fire.
“Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires,” said Michelle Bledsoe, fire prevention officer on base.
This year the focus is on preventable fires and injuries that happen while cooking in one’s kitchen or while barbequing in their yard.
“During 2014 – 2018, local fire departments responded to approximately 172,900 home cooking fires per year,” said Paul Aguilar, fire prevention officer aboard MCLB Barstow. “These fires caused an average of 550 civilian deaths; 4,820 civilian injuries; and $1.2 billion in direct property damage annually. Cooking caused almost half of the reported home fires, 49 percent, and home fire injuries, 44 percent, and one in five home fire deaths, 21 percent. Cooking was the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths.”
One of the things that makes cooking such a hazard is indeed the fire or hot surface itself. However, in many cases, it is human error, negligence or complacency which is the root cause of the disaster. So, it’s important for families to learn and teach proper kitchen safety etiquette.
“One common cooking related injury is caused by introducing frozen foods to hot grease or oil,” said Greg Kunkel, Emergency Medical Services chief on base. “Typically, when ice melts it turns to water then to a vapor. When frozen foods are dropped into the hot oil, it causes what is called ‘sublimation,’ which means it skips the water stage and goes straight from solid to vapor, suddenly and violently causing mini explosion. The expansion rate of the ice to gas is crazy! It expands at a factor of 1,600. So, those mini explosions the oil to pop and spray, potentially burning the cook.”
“Cooking is such a routine activity that it is easy to forget that the high temperatures used can easily start a fire,” said Nicholas Llewellyn, fire prevention officer aboard MCLB Barstow. “Sometimes people become complacent and leave items unattended. Sometimes, especially during holidays, sporting events, or other activities, it can be easy to get distracted. For example, home fires caused by cooking peak during Thanksgiving and Christmas when people may be cooking more than usual, but may also be distracted by visiting family members and friends. Always be attentive to what’s cooking and never leave any items on the stove or oven unattended.”
“Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.” Michelle Bledsoe, base fire prevention officer
The type of clothing worn while cooking can also make the difference between slight discomfort, versus a full on 3rd degree burn.