With the changing of the seasons comes not only colder weather, but also an increased risk of home-based fires. In 2011, fire departments across the United States responded to a combined 370,000 fires in homes. The aftermath of these fires proved that two of every five fires begin in the kitchen.
Dayton Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Dayton are teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to urge families to take extra precautions while in the kitchen and to participate in Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12. This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires.”
According to the NFPA, more than 156,600 cooking-related fires flared up between 2007-2011, resulting in over 400 deaths and more than 5,000 injuries.
“Many times with kitchen fires, we hear that the adult left the kitchen ‘for a only few minutes,’” said Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start which is why it especially important for parents to know where their children are at all times, particularly when cooking.”
While fires in the kitchen are extremely dangerous for children and adults, children, especially those younger than age 5, are even more susceptible to non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned as a direct result of a cooking fire.
One trend that has been seen in recent years is burns from instant soup. The soup containers have been found to be extremely dangerous because of how they are designed. Noodles from soup can stick to the skin if spilled, which leads to a more serious burn. Many children with soup noodle burns end up needing surgery. Permanent scaring can also result from any type of burn.
“A burn can be incredibly painful and severe injuries in children can happen very quickly because their skin is very fragile,” Schwing said. “Whether you are keeping your child away from fire in the kitchen or taking precautions to keep them safe from hot liquids, it is important to make kitchen safety a priority in your home.”
To help you keep your family safe this fall, Dayton Children’s and Safe Kids Greater Dayton are offering four tips to not only protect your kids, but also to prevent a fire from flaring up in your home:
1. Create “Kid Free” zones around kitchen hot spots. Use construction paper or tape to mark off at least a three foot area around the stove, oven and microwave where spills and injuries could occur.
2. Keep hot pots and pans as far away from the counter edge as possible. Use the back burners on the stove and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
3. Encourage cooking help in other ways. Children as young as three can be your chef’s little helper by doing tasks such as mixing ingredients in a bowl. This keeps them in the kitchen with you, but away from danger.
4. Don’t allow your kids to sit on top of the counter. Children on top of the counter could easily reach over and place their hand on a hot stove or under scalding hot water.
Take this time during Fire Prevention Week to talk to your children about kitchen safety and what they should do if a fire would flare up. The NFPA has a new storybook app and e-book that can help you get the conversation started. To download the app and get more information on fire prevention, visit www.firepreventionweek.org .
Health, safety, prevention
Find weekly advice geared toward children, their parents and caregivers from the team of experts at Dayton Children’s Hospital every Tuesday in Life.