by NFPA's Karen Berard-Reed
As a child, I was very shy, quiet, and a model student. I rarely got into trouble. My parents were confident my older sister and I were responsible enough to be “latch key kids” throughout most of elementary school.
One day when I was about 8 years old, I decided that I wanted to make some popcorn. Back then we made popcorn in a pot on the stove by heating oil and waiting for a few test kernels to pop before dumping the rest in. We certainly had rules against cooking on the stove when we were home alone, but my craving took over and I broke the rule this time. No big deal! I had watched my father cook popcorn many times and thought I knew exactly what to do.
Of course, I didn’t. I didn’t realize how hot the burner could get. I didn’t realize oil could catch on fire. I also didn’t realize I could stop a cooking fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Thanks goodness my older sister did.