It started as a typical Saturday, at the crack of dawn, playing with the kids, while my husband prepared his delicious pancakes in the kitchen. I excused myself for a moment to use the restroom upstairs. Little did I know what was about to ensue was anything but our typical weekend routine. 

From below, I heard a noise I don’t think I’ve ever heard coming from my husband as he screamed my name with such urgency. I couldn’t make out what he was yelling. I grabbed the baby, ran downstairs heart thumping and immediately understood as smoke filled my nostrils. I called 911 and reported the fire. 

I found out later, as he was making his signature pancakes, a grease fire started and jumped to our wooden cabinets. My husband used the fire extinguisher to no avail – as it was well beyond the expiration and for an inexplicable reason did not work. 

Within minutes two fire trucks arrived at our door. Fortunately, the fire caused little to no damage and was easily extinguished. My husband finished his pancakes for our son, and we counted ourselves so lucky as this could easily have been so much worse. 

As the adrenaline still surged from our brush with disaster, I realized how quickly the fire happened and how wholly unequipped we were to handle this type of emergency.

 So I reached out to my friend Sasha Staton, the Public Information Officer for the Daytona Beach Fire Department, to discuss kitchen fire safety rules that every parent should know. Here are 6 rules to practice fire safety in the kitchen: 

Sasha Staton Public Information Officer, Daytona Beach Police Department

1. What Is The First Thing You Should Do When There Is A Fire?

Always keep a current, working fire extinguisher within easy access (not blocked by items or in a difficult to reach spot) in the kitchen. If the fire is small, attempt to put it out with a fire extinguisher. If the flames grow or you are unsuccessful, evacuate the house. Even if you are able to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher, still call the fire department to come and check the home.

2. What Are The Important Things To Tell 911? 

Stay calm when calling 911. Give them your name and location and then provide a brief description of the incident. If there is loud background noise such as a smoke detector going off, try to get to a quiet place to relay the information to the emergency call taker.

3. What Is A Grease Fire? 

Grease fires are extremely dangerous because they burn very hot and can easily spread to cabinets or other areas of the kitchen. The best way to put out a grease fire is to smother it the lid of the pan or use a fire extinguisher. You should always keep the lid of the pan next to the stove as you cook so you can quickly grab it if necessary. Pouring water on the grease will not only not extinguish it but can also create a splash that causes the grease to be spread to other flammable areas.

fire truck

4. How Common Is A Grease Fire?

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, cooking fires are considered the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. First thing, is to avoid fire common mistakes: Never leave cooking unattended, do not get distracted when cooking, be alert and do not cook if you are sleepy or on medication that makes you drowsy, keep flammable items such as oven mitts and dish towels away from the stovetop. Finally, avoid wearing loose fitting clothing that could easily dangle onto burners. 

5. What Should We Teach Kids To Do If There Is A Fire? 

Some things to teach children: how to call 911, what their address is, and what your family’s emergency escape plan is. (Develop an emergency escape plan for you home and practice it with your children and time it. This should include which door everyone will exit your house from, and what your meeting spot will be. For example, everyone meet at the mailbox by the road. Do not go back inside the home for anything you forgot. This should take less than 2 minutes.

6. How Do We Teach Kids Not To Be Afraid Of Firefighters In Full Gear? 

It is important to teach your children to never be afraid of firefighters. During a fire, firefighters look completely different than when responding to non-emergency situations. They are wearing thick gear and a helmet with an air pack connected to a breathing apparatus over their face that somewhat blocks your view of their face and distorts their voice. Explain to children to never run or hide from a firefighter. Always go to them and listen to their instructions.

And of course, the most important safety measure of all, to the moms out there – don’t go to the bathroom

In case you missed it, check out How Organizing My Closet Changed My Life

Special thanks to the Daytona Beach Fire Department, Station 1 firefighters Jacob Otto, Ryan Terry, and Richard Krinitz. 

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