Sunday, August 2, 2009

What fire danger lies beneath the surface of your stove?

Just a couple of days ago I experience the thing that I have warned so many others about, a kitchen fire. There was a large serving pan of rice cooking over two eyes, when one ignited. I quickly realized that it was grease fire and I had not replaced the fire extinguisher that had been used about a year earlier to put a grill fire. It is true that the path to destruction is often paved with good intentions. I had thought about replacing the extinguisher numerous times over the past year but had never done so, now the need was there and I had to improvise. I remembered all the things I had written and educated about in seminars and first cut off the power to the stove. I grabbed a large lid and tried to smother the flames; it didn’t work. Still not panicking, I grabbed a box of baking soda which was only half full and used it to put out my kitchen blaze. There are several lessons I learned from this experience. First always be prepared and second what you see on the surface is not where the danger lies.

As a Boy Scout I had learned the saying and the lesson “to always be prepared”, but I had let life get in the way. Like so many others I found myself in a situation where my home was in jeopardy, because of failure to perform a simple task. I knew that a fire doubles in size every 20 seconds and time flies when you are not adequately equipped. The next thing I drew from situation was to always be educated about what to do and have a back-up. Sadly, many people make a bad situation worst due to lack of knowledge. I knew that most fires that originate on the stove are either grease or electrical, which means that they can not be put out with water. Water will only make the fire spread, because grease and water do not mix. Burning grease will float on top of the water and will splash back potentially causing medical injury. Also if the fire is electrical, water conducts electricity and will cause the situation to escalate, not only potentially causing physical harm but death. With proper education, you will stay calm and execute a back-up plan.

I learned early in life that if you don’t first succeed to try again until you do. My first attempt failed, but my second attempt, baking soda, succeeded. No damage, just a little smoke. However, there was still more to be learned. What you see at face value is not where the real danger may lie. I always clean the top of the stove until it shines, but things can drip into the stove eyes and are hidden from view. In order to prevent a future fire I had to raise the stove lid and clean everything that was there as well. Although the top was sparkling it was a greasy mess underneath. If you are like me, you probably haven’t cleaned beneath your lid either. Why would you? Now you know why, because it could cause your stove to catch fire and possibly burn your house down. Another item I’d like to caution people on is not to remove the batteries from your smoke detectors when you have a kitchen incident that sets them off. Why you may ask? You will most likely forget to replace them. As people we are often more concerned about what happens to us now, than we are about what could affect us later due to our cumulative actions of satisfying our immediate wants and desires over planning for potential challenges and life necessities. I went out the very next and purchased that fire extinguisher and got a huge box of baking soda. I hope that I will not have to use either one of them, but it was money well spent. While shopping for the extinguisher I saw a two story rope ladder for under $70 dollars. A great deal, if you don’t want to have to jump from the second story if your stairway was blocked and you had to get out. With this you don’t have to jump and risk injury.

The fire extinguisher only cost only $20.25 with tax and will last for ten years. A rope ladder under $70 dollars and a security system with fire and two-way voice for an initial investment of under $300 to protect a home valued at over $150,000. Protection of my family, priceless!

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