Friday, September 29, 2023

Episode 665 (10-2-23): Focusing on Safe Cooking for Fire Prevention Week 2023

Click to listen to episode (4:47)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-28-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of October 2 and October 9, 2023.

SOUNDS - ~5 sec – Fire engine siren and horn.

In this episode, we feature several mystery sounds to revisit the topic of a national safety campaign held every October.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds and see if you can guess the dangerous phenomenon that sparks this campaign.

SOUNDS - ~26 sec – Smoke alarm, fire alarm announcement, fire hydrant pressure test.  The fire alarm announcement was as follows: “Attention! Attention!  A fire emergency has been reported in the building.  Please walk to the nearest exit and evacuate the building.  Do not use the elevator.”

If you guessed fire, you’re right!  You heard a home smoke alarm, a fire-emergency announcement, and a fire-hydrant pressure test.  All are aspects of the constant and complicated challenge of preventing fires or protecting people, property, wildlife, and the environment when fires do occur.

Fire safety by individuals, families, businesses, and communities is the focus of Fire Prevention Week, which in 2023 runs October 8-14; the observance always includes October 9, the date when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 did most of its damage.  Fire Prevention Week has been sponsored annually since 1922 by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA.  NFPA sets a central theme for each year, and this year it’s cooking safety.  According to U.S. Fire Administration data from 2012 through 2021, cooking is by far the leading single cause of residential building fires; for example, in 2021 there were an estimated 353,300 residential building fires in the United States, with 170,000 of those due to cooking, about twice the combined number due to building heating, electrical malfunctions, and miscellaneous other causes.

NFPA provides many educational items, and one of the learning tools for this year is a “Cooking Safety Tip Sheet.”  Here are some fire-prevention points from that sheet.

* Be alert while cooking, and avoid using a stove after consuming alcohol or if you’re sleepy;
* While frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen, and turn off the stove if leaving the kitchen even for a short time;
* While simmering, baking, or roasting food, stay in the residence, check the food regularly, and use a timer to remind you that food’s cooking.
* Keep flammable items—such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels, and food packaging—away from the stove top.  And
* Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

Two additional recommendations from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management are the following.

* Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves while cooking.  And
* Keep outdoor grills at least 10 feet away from siding and railings, and out from under building eaves and tree branches.

The NFPA tip sheet and other educational resources are available online at; resources particularly for teachers, families, and children are available online at

During Fire Prevention Week and all year round, education and preparedness can help reduce the times we hear this sound:

SOUNDS – ~ 7 sec - Fire engine siren and horn.

Thanks to for the fire engine sound, and a special thanks to firefighters everywhere.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The smoke alarm sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio at a Blacksburg residence on October 4, 2017.

The fire alarm sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio at Cheatham Hall on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on November 20, 2017.

The fire hydrant pressure test sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on March 10, 2017.   Thanks to the Virginia Tech Facilities Department and to Liberty Fire Solutions of Salem, Va., for allowing recording and photographing of the testing and for providing information about the test.

The fire engine sound (dated April 6, 2016) was recorded by user logancircle2 and made available for public use by, online at (as of 9-22-23), under the Creative Commons 0 License.  For more information on Creative Commons licenses, please see; information on the 0 License specifically is online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Main poster for the 2023 Fire Prevention Week campaign by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  Accessed online at, 9-22-23.  Copyright by the NFPA, not for commercial use.

Graph of leading causes of residential building fires in the United States, 2012-2021.  Graph from the U.S. Fire Administration, “Residential Building Fire Causes (2012-2021),” online at


The following information is quoted from the National Fire Prevention Association, “Public Education/Cooking,” online at

What you should know about home cooking safety

*Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

*Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.

*If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

*Keep anything that can catch fire—oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from your stove top.

If you have a cooking fire

*Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

*Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.

*If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

*Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires.  Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop.  Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

*For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Safety considerations for cooking with oil

*Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stove top.

*Keep an eye on what you fry.  If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner.  Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.

*Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.

*Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.

*Always cook with a lid beside your pan.  If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner.  Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again.  Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.

*If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home.  Call the fire department from outside.


Used for Audio

National Fire Prevention Association, online at; “Cooking,” online at; and “Fire Prevention Week,” online at  The “Cooking Safety Tip Sheet” referred to in this episode’s audio is online at  

U.S. Fire Administration, “Residential Fire Estimate Summaries,” online at

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Fire Prevention Week,” online at

For More Information about Fire and Fire Safety

American Red Cross, “Home Fire Safety,” online at

California Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Science: Wildfire Impacts,” online at

National Safety Council, “Fire Safety,” online at

National Weather Service, “Fire Weather Page,” online at

U.S. Department of the Interior, “10 Tips to Prevent Wildfires,” online at

U.S. Fire Administration, “Fire Prevention and Community Risk Reduction,” online at  This information is particularly for fire departments.

Virginia Department of Forestry, “Wildland and Prescribed Fire,” online at  Among the many topics is “Fire Danger,” online at, with a “Daily Fire Danger Rating” and a “Burn Ban Map.”


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (

Following are links to previous years’ episodes for Fire Prevention Week.

Episode 389, 10-9-17Fire Prevention Week Helps Fight Fires with Education and Preparedness.
Episode 493, 10-7-19Planning and Practicing an Escape During Fire Prevention Week 2019.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-3 plus 5: Matter
3.3 – Materials interact with water.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.
4.4 – Weather conditions and climate have effects on ecosystems and can be predicted.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.

BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.