Thursday, July 12, 2007

Flames in the kitchen

No, this is not another post about my attempts at being a domestic goddess, but about the heart-stopping fear when the smoke alarm suddenly goes off and you know there is nothing cooking and definitely no burning toast. This is what happened to me this morning.

I was upstairs checking on my eldest who is in bed poorly today. At the sound of the be
eping, I rushed downstairs to the kitchen to see flames coming from the worktop. Indeed it was dramatic at the time, but after quickly identifying that it was a plastic handled knife and fork on fire (accidentally left too close to the boiling kettle on the hob), I quickly picked them up and dowsed the flames under the tap, then repeatedly flapped a tea towel under the smoke alarm like a mad woman performing some kind of rain dance.

There are two lessons to be learned here. Firstly, please test your smoke alarms to make sure they are working. As can be seen from the photo, this was a minor incident, but if the smoke alarm hadn't been effective, it could have been worse. Secondly, using a gas hob in a flame-thrower kind of way (i.e. my style) is not the best way to boil a kettle. It's not good for the environment and as demonstrated is not especially safe.

I am sure that 21st C Dad will be happy that his house didn't burn down today when he gets back from work, but it has got me thinking again about fire safety.

The best sources of advice on the internet that I have found are:
Direct Gov: Fire Safety in the home

We do have an escape route planned should the worst happen, which also includes a collapsible ladder which we store under our bed. Fingers crossed we will never need it!


todaysdaze said...

A few months ago I was making sweet and sour chicken and some fat spilled and caught fire in the well under the ring. I had flames I could not put out, even though I smothered it with a wet tea towel. The smoke detectors DIDN'T go off and I had to have the fire dept come to put out the fire. Bearing in mind what I do for a job, I did not want to call 911 and have my work colleagues respond so I called the fire dept on their non emergency number. 4 fire trucks and 2 paramedics in ambulances turned up. All the firefighters were suited up in breathing apparatus and all they came lights and sirens. I kept apologising for calling them for such a small fire!!! They opened all my windows and set huge fans on generators to blow out all the smoke. Then they changed the batteries in my smoke detectors. Oh what service !!!!

a.n.other said...

My Dad was a Fire Officer, to give him his full title.
I grew up with a huge appreciation of Fire Safety, probably to the point of paranoia, he made us very aware of the do's and don'ts.
I'm not quite as bad now, but I imagine he saw things which made him want to protect his own family.
I used to make sure the kids knew what they had to do in case of fire both at home and in Hotels etc.
Smoke alarms, and a plan of escape
that kids can understand always made me sleep easier.

21st Century Mummy said...

todaysdaze ~ what an excellent account of your escape with fire. You can't beat that for service. LOL!

a.n.other ~ Yes I guess Fire Officers see a whole load of horrible things that we only see re-enactments of on TV. I know what you mean about safety. Since having children, I have become so security conscious. As soon as we are in a hotel or on a plane or ferry, the first thing I do is look for the exits!

On the subject of hotels, I once stayed in a hotel in Cambridge, where our hotel room was part of the emergency exit route. There was one of those "break the glass" cabinets outside our room, with the door key inside. No guessing that I slept in my pyjamas & dressing-gown all night, in fear of the stampede that could descend at any moment. ;-)

Motheratlarge said...

How frightening. Glad you are all okay. Reminds me to get new batteries for our smoke alarm. It's been lying unused on kitchen table for weeks.

Motheratlarge said...

ps - thanks for including me on your blog roll. Am adding you to mine now!

bury boy said...

You have gas on Moreton Hall !

todaysdaze said...

Here in Florida commercials are all over the tv telling you to change your smoke alarm batteries when the clocks change. Good way to remember to regularly change them.

21st Century Mummy said...

Mother at Large - thanks for your kind wishes and for adding me to your blog roll. Great Blog you've got ;-)

Bury Boy - LOL. We've got electricity as well you know.

Todaysdaze - great reminder and so necessary. said...

Smoke alarms are very important. You should also make sure you know how to stop a grease fire in the kitchen -- set up something that will always be handy so you can put out a grease fire (with something OTHER than water) like a cup of baking soda.

Also, put a fire extinguisher (a small one) near your exit door. This way, if you run for the extinguisher and you realize the fire has gotten too bad, you're already there at the door! And you can step outside to safety...

21st Century Mummy said...

Constructiondeal - thanks for the very sound advice. I've got a fire blanket in the kitchen, and I "think" the fire extinguisher is on top of the fridge. I now think it is time to move it the recommended position....thank you..!