Summit County’s fire prevention week begins October 6. |

Summit County’s fire prevention week begins October 6.

In observation of national Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12, Summit County’s fire departments are visiting every elementary-school class to impart vital fire-safety lessons among school children.

We encourage parents to discuss these lessons with their children at the dinner table to reinforce those messages and refresh their own memories of fire safety.

How many adults reflexively recall “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch on fire, or “crawl low under smoke” to escape a burning building? Does everyone in the family know where your designated meeting place is in case you have to evacuate your home from different exits? Have you tested your smoke detectors each month, and replaced the batteries every six months?

These important fire-safety skills literally can mean the difference between life and death, and everyone in the family should know them.

This year’s theme of Fire Prevention Week is “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” since cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to the non-profit National Fire Protection Association.

Copper Mountain Fire, Lake Dillon Fire and Red, White & Blue Fire are teaming with the NFPA during Fire Prevention Week to get out the word that leaving cooking unattended and other unsafe kitchen practices are a recipe for disaster.

How often has the doorbell rung or a child interrupted you while you were cooking, causing you to forget about the chicken you left sizzling on the stove — until smoke filled the house? Often when we’re called to a cooking-related fire, the residents tell us they only left the kitchen for a few minutes. Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. The bottom line is that there’s really no safe period of time for the cook to step away from a hot stove.

A few key points to remember:

• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the room even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

• When you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home, and use a timer to remind you.

• Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).

• Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.

• If you have a fire in your microwave, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. If in doubt, get out of thehome and call the fire department

• Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, do not remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire. If the fire does not go out, get out of the home and call the fire department.

• If an oven fire starts, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. If the fire does not go out, get out of the home and call 9-1-1.

Finally, in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, local fire departments are hosting annual open houses, featuring free food, goodies, information and entertainment for the whole family.

Red, White & Blue Fire will host its open house from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Station 6, 316 N. Main St., Breckenridge.

Copper Mountain Fire will host its open house from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10 at Station 1, 0477 Copper Road, Copper Mountain.

Lake Dillon Fire will host its open house from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Station 11, 22393 U.S. 6, Keystone.

Plan on stopping by for a great event and to reinforce those fire-safety lessons.

Steve Lipsher is the public information office for Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

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