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Fire prevention and politicians: The heat is on

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. When your home kitchen is ablaze, President Truman’s advice is sound. When we’re talking “political” kitchens, however, officials should stay and do their jobs.

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST

When big disasters happen, common sense dictates that people try to figure out how to prevent similar calamities in the future.

The Great Chicago Fire brought tremendous destruction and death as it swept through the city on Oct. 8-10, 1871.

National Fire Prevention Week incorporates the anniversary of that fire to encourage people to practice fire safety.

The focus this year is on kitchen fires. Fire safety officials point out that 40 percent of home fires start in the kitchen.

One-third of home cooking fires are the result of inattentive cooks.

Two-thirds of home cooking fires happen because food or other cooking materials ignite.

Ranges account for nearly 60 percent of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens account for about 15 percent.

Don’t think that cooks or their loved ones can easily drop what they’re doing and flee a kitchen fire. Between 2007 and 2011, nearly 400 people were killed in cooking-related fires.

The estimated average annual number of kitchen fires during that time frame? 156,600.

No wonder Fire Prevention Week focuses on kitchens and cooks.

It’s truly a case where, as President Harry Truman liked to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Truman knew well of what he spoke. Upon his shoulders rested such weighty decisions as the first wartime use of the atomic bomb, the Berlin airlift, U.S. involvement in the Korean War, the firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and racial integration of the military.

He got all that done while working with Congress to approve annual budgets and manage the U.S. debt.

By comparison, today’s leaders look less than impressive as new financial disasters loom.

Will those debacles be averted?

Or will their anniversaries be precursors to future special weeks?

Perhaps “Shutdown Prevention Week” will be created to remember the importance of national leaders working together to approve the federal budget.

“Default Prevention Week” may be designated to recall the time in 2013 when the U.S. government failed to pay its obligations.

Those weeks have yet to be created, and we hope there is no need for them.

But Fire Prevention Week is real, and we hope people act to reduce the threat of fire in their kitchens.

Just as flames can sweep out of the kitchen and into the house, the flames of governmental discord may sweep out of Congress and the White House to points far beyond the beltway.

It’s time for politicians to face the political heat, not flee from it, and act to put out those fires.

 

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