On sidewalks and playgrounds around Pratt, firefighters were spreading the message about fire safety in the kitchen this week.

Grade school, kindergarten and preschoolers all learned ways to avoid kitchen fires and what to do if a fire gets started during National Fire Prevention Week, said Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer.

Firefighters visited Southwest Elementary, Sacred Heart, St. Paul Lutheran Preschool and the USD 382 Preschool. Visits are planned at Skyline next week.

Firefighters volunteer to teach these lessons to the students. Local businesses donate the fire prevention materials used at each site as an additional learning tool. It is an important part of the presentation.

"That is a tremendous asset to our department," Kramer said.

Kitchens are a common place for fires to originate in residences so the emphasis on this year's presentation was stepping back and think about fires in the kitchen.

Students gathered outside buildings for information talks about kitchen fires then got to explore the trucks and get special handouts and even get to hold a fire hose and spray water.

A key part of the presentation was never leaving something on the stove. If someone starts cooking they need to stay in the kitchen.

"Don't leave it unattended," Kramer said.

Burners, either gas or electric, can cause burns so stay away from the stove. The pots and pans can get hot too and also cause burns.

The microwave also gets containers hot and can cause injury by touching or by coming in contact with steam.

A good rule is to stay away from a stove the length of an outstretched arm.

"Anything hot poses a hazard. There needs to be a safe distance," Kramer said.

Children were quizzed on smoke detectors, how to escape a smoke filled room and what to do if their clothes catch on fire.

They also learn that quick action with a lid or a fire extinguisher can help put out a fire before it spreads. Using water on a grease fire can spread the fire so smother it instead.

Presenting these programs to schoolchildren is a good avenue to get the message of fire safety into the homes. Kids are more receptive than adults. The program often leads to a good practical discussion with the family.

Taking the time for these discussions actually makes it easier for the firefighters to get the message across about smoke detectors, having a prearranged meeting place to make sure everyone is out and paying attention to combustibles.