Fire department offers safety tips during Fire Prevention Month

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light

The Waxahachie Fire-Rescue Department began recognizing National Fire Prevention Month this past week by posting various safety measures on social media.

The department said it was unable to host its annual fire prevention programs because of the pandemic.

The Waxahachie Fire-Rescue offered safety tips as part of Fire Prevention Month.

According to the International Association of Fire Fighters 40 percent of house fires are caused by cooking. The next most-common causes are heating at 18 percent, electrical (17 percent) and arson (15 percent). Smoking causes 5 percent of fires.

Safety tips when cooking include staying in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food, wearing short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves, keeping children 3 feet away from the stove and keeping barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Heat precautions include keeping combustible objects at least 3 feet away from portable heating devices, making sure the portable heater has an automatic off switch if it falls over and only buying heaters from nationally recognized laboratories.

Officials urge residents to inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and to use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening. Matches and lighters should be stored away from children.

Electrical safety tips include replacing worn, old or damaged appliance cords and not running cords under rugs or furniture, only using an appliance that has a three-prong plug in a three-slot outlet and shutting off and professionally replacing light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Smoking precautions include soaking cigarette butts and ashes before throwing them away, not smoking in a house where oxygen is used, even if it’s turned off, and stubbing out butts in an ashtray or can filled with sand.

The department also offered fire extinguisher safety tips. Use an extinguisher only when a fire is contained to a small area and is not growing, use a multi-purpose fire extinguisher large enough to be effective but small enough to handle, make sure the extinguisher has a label of an independent testing laboratory, and be familiar with how to use the extinguisher before it’s needed.

According to the International Association of Fire Fighters a small flame can turn into a major fire in less than 30 seconds. Thick smoke can engulf a house in minutes, it said.

The organization said room temperature of a fire can reach 100 degrees at floor level and reach 600 degrees at eye level.

The Waxahachie Fire-Rescue Department encourages residents to have working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan. According to the department 65 percent of deaths related to house fires occurred because the house did not have a working smoke alarm.

The department offers free smoke detectors and installation and annual battery replacement for those who need it. Call 469-309-4200 for more information on this program.