Since mid-April, the Community Board 12 area has garnered the unfortunate distinction of having the third-highest number of fire injuries in the entire city.
And while board Chairwoman Adrienne Adams said the district no longer ranks among the highest in fire-related deaths “as we were for years,” the FDNY was on hand at the May 15 of CB 12 with reminders for surviving fires and avoiding them altogether.
Speaking at the Robert Ross Johnson Living Center in St. Albans, Lt. Vincent Sainato of the FDNY’s Community Affairs Bureau did not need notes to rattle off the most frequent causes of home fires.
“Careless smoking, cooking, overloaded outlets, space heaters,” he said. “Smokers are seven times more likely to have a fire. We see a lot of that.”
Sainato said people should never smoke in bed, especially after taking medication that can make them drowsy.
Cooking fires, he said, also cause a large number of burn injuries.
“If something catches fire on your stove, don’t use water — if it’s a grease fire that will just make it spread,” he said.
And he said absentee cooks can be in for unpleasant surprises.
“We have a saying — ‘Stand By Your Pan,’” he said. “Don’t put something on the stove and leave the room or go to make a phone call.”
Small stovetop fires, he said, often can be handled by covering a pot or pan with a snug-fitting lid; with baking soda; or by shutting off or unplugging the stove.
He said many fires are caused by an accumulation of grease and other cooking remnants on stoves, or even on cabinet surfaces above them.
“And if a fire is too big, don’t try to put it out yourself,” he said. “Get out and call 911.
“And if you are burned, don’t do what my grandmother always said you should do and put butter on it. Rinse it in cool water, because sometimes a burn can be worse below the surface of the skin than it looks.”
He said two recent fatal fires in the Bronx were caused by frayed extension cords that overheated.
And surge protectors and devices that allow people to plug in multiple devices in single outlets also can overheat.
“Some people use a surge protector to have six outlets and then put six surge protectors in that,” he said. “Not good.”
Careless use of candles, he said, often results in worse than just a fire.
“Most people killed in fires caused by candles are children between 5 and 9 years old,” he said. “Don’t go out of the room. Don’t let them burn down to the ends.”