As community hubs, religious organizations are used for a variety of purposes. Schools, churches and halls are all used to host events, celebrations and meals that can lend itself to a potential risk of fire.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that almost 30 percent of the fires in religious and funeral properties were caused by cooking equipment; with nearly one quarter of those fires beginning in the cooking area.
As October is Fire Prevention Month, let’s take a look at how to keep safety in the kitchen a priority. Further NFPA statistics show that unattended cooking is the leading factor contributing to these fires. Frying poses the greatest risk of fire; adults aged 65 or over faced a higher risk of cooking fire death than other age groups; and more than half of all cooking-fire injuries occurred when people tried to fight the fire themselves.
If you have a cooking fire, the NFPA recommends to:
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from the stovetop.
Make sure all buildings have working smoke alarms. Test each smoke alarm at least monthly and install a new battery in all conventional smoke alarms at least once a year.
In addition, statistics also show that electrical distribution or lighting equipment caused 10 percent of fires, while lightning and candles each caused 4 percent of fires. Lit candles are used in religious services and caution needs to be considered.
The NFPA sets the following reminders:
- Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder.
- Handheld candles should not be passed from one person to another at any time.
- When lighting candles at a candle lighting service, have the person with the unlit candle dip their candle into the flame of the lit candle.
- Lit candles should not be placed in windows where a blind or curtain could catch fire.
- Candles placed on, or near tables, altars or shrines, must be watched by an adult.
- If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed in a sink, on a metal tray, or in a deep basin filled with water.
Planning and practicing fire safety is key in reacting properly during an actual fire. Every facility should have a written plan in place that is practiced by all staff on a regular basis.