Florida Cabinet Designates Fire Prevention Week, Honors Youth Who Saved Woman from Home Fire
CONTACT: Nina Banister
Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14, Will Focus on Cooking Incidents
As Leading Cause of Home Fires
TALLAHASSEE—Governor Jeb Bush, State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher and the other members of the Florida Cabinet today designated next week, Oct. 8-14, as Fire Prevention Week in Florida and kicked off activities by honoring a young man from Navarre who, along with two other friends, helped rescue a 64-year-old woman from a home fire in July.
Tyler McArthur, 16, was presented the Cabinet's resolution proclaiming next week as Fire Prevention Week. Early in the morning on July 5, McArthur and two of his friends spotted flames and smoke coming from the garage of a home on Longview Street. They pounded on the door until a woman answered and then pulled her out to safety. Holley-Navarre Fire Department Chief Les Slocum also attended today's Cabinet meeting. The State Fire Marshal's Office determined the fire likely was caused by an electrical short in the attic.
"These young men saved a life because of their quick and brave actions," Gallagher said. "But tragically hundreds of Floridians are killed or injured every year by fire because they don't have a working smoke detector or a fire escape plan."
The theme of Fire Prevention Week is "Watch What You Heat." Nearly one-third of all home fires in Florida last year started in the kitchen, a trend that year after year has made cooking the leading cause of residential fires. Gallagher is urging Floridians to think about cooking safety, including teaching children about fire risks in the kitchen.
"It is important to be aware that there are very real risks in simple, everyday activities such as cooking," Gallagher said. "Taking a few simple precautions can go a long way toward protecting families and homes from the devastation that fire can quickly inflict."
Last year, 192 Floridians died and 794 were injured by fire. Those fires caused more than $304 million in damage and, in nearly half of all structure fires, there was no working smoke detector.
During Fire Prevention Week, the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bureau of Fire Prevention, will work with fire departments throughout Florida to distribute brochures with safe cooking tips and information. Titled "Watch What You Heat," the brochure can also be viewed or downloaded at www.fldfs.com/sfm.
Floridians can also take a quiz to test your cooking safety skills. The short quiz and the results of a national survey on kitchen fire safety are available through the National Fire Protection Association's web site: http://www.nfpa.org.
Some of the tips in the "Watch What You Heat" brochure are:
• While cooking, turn pots and pans so their handles are facing in a way that you are less likely to knock them over and a child would be less able to reach up and grab one.
• Keep your stove clean. An accumulation of dirt and grease can cause the stove to catch fire.
• When deep frying, never fill the fryer more than half full. The grease will expand as it heats or when food is placed in it and may overflow onto the burner and ignite a fire.
• If grease in a pan catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the flames, and turn off the burner or use a multipurpose dry chemical fire extinguisher. Using water could make the fire worse.
• If an extinguisher doesn't do the job or the blaze gets too big, get out of your home and call the fire department.
• Teach your children what "hot" means at an early age. Tell your children often that stoves, pans, ovens and microwaves are hot.
• Make and practice a family escape plan.
• Maintain working smoke detectors and replace batteries twice a year.
"If a fire occurs, you may have only a few seconds to escape," Gallagher said. "That's why it is critical to have a plan that you have practiced and memorized."
For a schedule of other Fire Prevention week activities planned for next week, go to www.fldfs.com/sfm. There also are pages for kids, parents and teachers at http://www.fldfs.com/SFM/SFM_ForTheKids.htm.