“One of the biggest ways we have our house fires is simply people leaving unattended pots and pans while they’re cooking,” Cunningham said. “Especially these days, we get distracted, you run out of the room, you go check on someone, and before you know it, you have something that’s a little out of your hands.”
The National Fire Protection Association also suggests keeping a lid nearby to cut off air supply and decluttering the stovetop and area nearby.
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your loved ones is by checking smoke detectors. Every six months, you should make sure the batteries are working. And every 10 years, your smoke detectors should be replaced.
Cunningham and another Hermantown firefighter, Courtney Smith, said it’s easy to forget that your extinguisher should be checked too. There’s a dial in the front. If it’s in the green, it’s good to go. But if it’s in the red, it may be over- or undercharged. You can call Firefighters Mutual Aid to have it recharged.
“Typically, your home ones that you buy at Home Depot or something, they’re just a one-use, kind of pull the pin, shoot it, put your fire out, and then you can just discharge those. Once the chemical is completely out of there, you can just toss it in your garbage,” Smith said.
And don’t forget to replace it after.
Around the Northland, there are both professional and volunteer fire departments. Hermantown is in the latter category. Cunningham says they are always recruting and want to get the word out that it’s not all running into burning buildings. The majority of their calls are actually for medical emergencies.
“As a volunteer, you really get to give back to your community, just be part of the community, get to know people, and that’s one of the big aspects of volunteering,” she said.
For more Fire Prevention Week Tips, visit the NFPA website.