As we pass from 2018 to 2019, be vigilant to prevent a fire in your home. I am giving each of us the benefit...

As we pass from 2018 to 2019, be vigilant to prevent a fire in your home. I am giving each of us the benefit of the doubt that we have been mindful of fire safety up to this point. There are still cooking-related fires that are displacing people from their homes every day. The reason for this is that the heat, fuel and oxygen are present on a regular basis. If there were other rooms where heat and fuel were together, then fires would occur there as well.

Unless we want to live in a hotel room or move in with family due to a fire, we must do everything necessary to prevent a fire. The kitchen would be the place to start. We need to ask ourselves: what must I do to prevent a fire in my kitchen? The No. 1 thing that it requires is your 100 percent undivided, undistracted attention. Do not get me wrong, a fire can occur in a kitchen when it is occupied, but a large majority occur when cooking is unattended or totally forgotten about. Being in a hurry is a recipe for disaster.

The second question that you must ask yourself is: what will I do if a fire occurs in my kitchen? When a pan of grease catches fire on a stove top, you must smother the fire with a top on the pan or skillet. You can also use a type B, BC or ABC extinguisher. A water extinguisher is not appropriate. Once you have covered the pan or skillet, turn the heat off and do not attempt to move the pan. Many people have been burned by hot, splattering grease. There is also the possibility of the fire reigniting.

There are other fire causes that one must be vigilant to prevent in the home. Candles cause many residential fires every year. The fire safety statement concerning candles is: when you go out, blow them out, not when you leave the home, but when you leave the room that the candles are in. A common problem is that burning candles can get knocked over, encountering some type of combustible.

Many people still have traditional fireplaces or wood stoves. It is important to ensure that your chimney is inspected annually and cleaned once or twice a year, depending on how much you use it.

Another thing to keep in mind is proper disposal of fireplace ashes. A vacuum cleaner should not be used to remove the ashes. Remember that fireplace ashes hold their heat for days. When you clean them out, the ashes should be placed in a covered metal container. The container should be placed outside, away from other combustibles.

Let me end this article with the most important piece of vigilance, and that is ensuring that you have a proper number of properly located, working smoke alarms.

Depending on the layout of the home, there needs to be at least one smoke alarm per level. New construction requires smoke alarms to be connected in a series. There is supposed to be one in each bedroom, one outside each bedroom, one at the top of a stairwell and one in the living room that must be a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. The more vigilant you are concerning your preparation, in the event of a fire, the better the chance that your family will be protected.

Happy New Year!