EASLEY – October is National Fire Prevention Month and first responders in Easley are going out of their way to educate local residents about the dangers of kitchen fires.
The Easley Fire Department hosted its annual open house Thursday evening, and the event’s theme highlighted a worrisome problem in Pickens County, according to Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack.
“We have had several kitchen fires that have involved children and adults this year, so we feel like educating folks in this area is a dire need for the community,” Womack said.
Womack said educating community members is step one in fire prevention.
“We want children to not be afraid of the fire department,” Womack said. “We are there to help. Whether it’s a fire, carbon monoxide problem or a wreck scene, we want people to know we’re there to help and that’s the most important message.”
Easley’s fire chief said most kitchen fires spark due to lack of attention.
“All the fires originate around unattended cooking material,” Womack said. “Whether it be grease or something of that nature, most of these fires occur around the stove. Sometimes a person will even get burned by grease and have to go to the Augusta Burn Center and we won’t even get the call. Those are the types of things that we need to educate folks about.
“A lot of youngsters will come home from school and they are there for an hour or two by themselves. This is just something we want to make sure they understand and can help prevent,” he said.
Womack said a lot of times bad things will happen when a person tries to multi-task while cooking.
“Nothing is instant when it comes to heating appliances up,” Womack said. “Once someone has turned the stove on, a lot of times they will find something else to do. In between those times is when the danger occurs. We’re always in a rush to get things done and that’s usually when bad things happen.”
The chief offered his advice to help prevent these sorts of fires.
“Once I’ve turned something on, I would always have someone in the kitchen or have someone coming back and forth from the kitchen to check on it,” Womack said. “Nothing should sit for more than five minutes by itself. Sometimes even that is too long.”
We have several elderly folks in the area that have the beginnings of dementia and sometimes will forget when they’ve turned something on,” he continued. “We’ve actually had folks leave the house with a pot on the stove. That’s just too dangerous.”
Informational booths were set up at the open house to inform local residents of seatbelt safety, bike safety, car seats, boating/water safety, prevention of kitchen fires, smoke alarms and more.
“We try to combine every aspect of safety we can with our event so that all the community can enjoy it,” Womack said.