National Fire Prevention Week runs from Oct. 8-14, and Nunavut fire marshal John McDermott is hoping residents in the territory will take the opportunity to educate themselves.

This year’s fire prevention week will focus specifically on cooking safety, and what people can do to reduce the risk of fires starting in the kitchen.

“This campaign by the National Fire Protection Association is to help educate our communities about the simple actions we can take to keep us all safe while cooking,” said McDermott, who has served as the territory’s fire marshal since April.

There are a number of things people can do to mitigate the risk of fire breaking out in the kitchen, according to the fire marshal.

“The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking,” he explained. “Making sure that we’re present the whole time while cooking is a great first step in cooking safety. Keeping a lid nearby while cooking is another great step, especially when cooking with oil. If a fire starts while cooking, the lid can be placed over the pan or pot while also turning off the burner. Leaving the lid on the pan or pot until it has cooled will be the best way to ensure the fire is out.”

Of course, fire risk is not limited to the kitchen.

Flames can break out in any part of a home, and McDermott recommends keeping an eye on electronics to reduce the risk.

“In addition to cooking safety, make sure that electrical circuits are not being overloaded by having too many small appliances such as electric heaters plugged in, especially during the colder seasons,” he said. “We should also ensure that our homes and workspaces are kept clear of clutter, and that combustible items such as cardboard are kept away from electrical outlets and any heating devices.”

One of the most important aspects of fire safety, according to the marshal, is making sure you have an escape route planned if fire breaks out in your home or workplace, and that everyone in the building is aware of it.

“Having a home escape plan and knowing how to use it can help save lives,” he said. “And if you have a fire, be sure to phone the fire department using the local emergency number in your community.”

Proper preventative measures can greatly reduce the fire risk. Nunavut is a great example of this. According to McDermott, the number of fires breaking out across the territory has been declining for about a decade.

“While the number varies from year to year, we are seeing an overall decrease in fires over the past 10 years in Nunavut,” he said.

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