This week is National Fire Prevention Week a week set aside to honor our firefighters and review fire safety procedures.
Sponsored annually by the National Fire Protection Association, this year's theme is "Prevent Kitchen Fires." The week that contains Oct. 9 is set aside annually in the United States to observe fire prevention week. What's significant about Oct. 9? That date is the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire.
According to the NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, thus the focus on kitchen fires this year.
On its website, the NFPA offers the following facts about cooking fires and injuries:
*U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 156,600 cooking-related fires between 2007-2011, resulting in 400 civilian deaths, 5,080 civilian injuries and $853 million in direct damage.
*Two of every five home fires start in the kitchen.
*Unattended cooking was a factor in 34 percent of reported home cooking fires.
*Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
*Ranges accounted for 58 percent of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16 percent.
*Children under 5 face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire.
*Microwave ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burn injuries not related to fires. Nearly half (44 percent) of the microwave oven injuries seen at emergency rooms in 2011 were scald burns.
*Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1 percent of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 16 percent of the cooking fire deaths.
The NFPA urges you to keep these facts in mind and use caution when cooking in your homes. Also be sure you have working smoke alarms in your home and develop and practice a safe home evacuation plan to use in the event of fires or other emergencies.
And, while were practicing fire safety, let's not forget to show our appreciation for our local firefighters.
In Columbiana County, most of our firefighters are volunteers, which means they get paid very little or nothing for responding to citizens' emergencies. The majority of them have other jobs, but they drop what they are doing without question every time the alarm summons them.
If you havent thanked a firefighter lately, this week would be a good time to do so. We applaud all of the efforts of firefighters and pray that they are kept safe as they place themselves in harm's way protecting our lives and property.