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Overwhelmed with New Year's To-Do Lists? Ditch the List and Start With a Walk Through the Kitchen

It's 2011. The holidays are over. Back to reality, right? To help ease back into work-mode and get a handle on what I need to accomplish this year, I started by making a list. The problem is the list just keeps getting longer and more detailed, making it harder for me to decide what my urgent, top priorities are. As you contemplate the goals you want to achieve this year or simply the things you might want to avoid, a good place to start may not be a list on a piece of paper, but a walk through the kitchen.

Why the kitchen?

The kitchen is a hot-spot for home fires. Cooking, in fact, is the leading cause of all winter residential-building fires. And the winter season brings the highest number of home fires than any other time of year, as reported by the U.S. Fire Administration.* Residential building fire incidence is collectively highest in the three winter months of January, February, and March.

Winter residential-building fires result in an estimated average of 945 deaths, 3,825 injuries, and $1,708,000,000 (yes, that’s 1.7 billion!) in property loss each year. “These fires are a painful reminder of what we see every year,” said National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) President Jim Shannon. “The temperatures drop and fires increase.”

So what can you do to prevent your property from becoming the next victim of a fire?

The first step in prevention is knowledge: knowing how and where fires typically start. 

Quick: what was the leading cause of home fires during the winter months? Do you remember?

Cooking. And in the ignition of home cooking fires, unattended cooking is the leading catalyst. In fact, around 80% of cooking fires start when the cook is out of the kitchen..

So how can I prevent my residents from starting cooking fires?

It’s time to remind your resident's to practice safe cooking. The U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA offer free tips and flyers you can print and post in mail rooms, laundry facilities, or even on each resident’s door. Download them free here: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/holiday-seasonal/winter.shtm.

I know what you’re thinking. A lot of good posting a flyer will do, right? 

What about offering a free, non-invasive winter-weather fire-safety check? Have your maintenance staff check for grease build-up on the burners. If there are space heaters in the residence, make sure they are not located too close to any combustible items such as blankets, beds, furniture, etc. And make sure smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in working condition. Sure, while that’s truly the responsibility of the tenant, why leave it up to chance?

 Have you equipped each and every apartment unit with fire extinguishers?

Now is not the time to skimp on fire safety. Make sure fire extinguishers are in each and every apartment and that your residents know how to use them. Believe me; it’s not as easy as just “aim and spray.” Click here for instructions on how to properly operate a fire extinguisher:

http://www.fire-extinguisher101.com/using.html or http://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Fire-Extinguisher

Keep in mind that there are four classes of traditional fire extinguishers—Class A, B, C, and D—each designed to combat a certain type of fire, such as paper, electrical, gasoline, etc. Click here to learn more about which type you have or need: http://www.fire-extinguisher101.com/.

Do your tenants know where the fire extinguishers are located? It certainly doesn’t do you any good to have extinguishers if tenants can’t locate them in the time of an emergency. If you’re worried residents won’t be able to find or operate a fire extinguisher to put out a cooking fire, you can equip their stovetop with an automatic fire extinguishing device.

With all the options out there, don’t wait until it’s too late.

While you can’t always prevent your residents from careless cooking or other countless actions that can cause fires, you can educate for prevention. And you too can be prepared.

* http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/media/press/2010releases/111910.shtm

 

Kelli Edwards is Account Manager for StoveTop FireStop, an easily installed fire suppressor that works when flame-activated to put out unattended cooking fires in your apartment communities.

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