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Preventing house fires, and the importance of listening to your inner voice

KSL Newsradio host Debbie Dujanovic shows the outlet cover that was burning when she walked into her kitchen a few nights ago. Photo credit: Debbie Dujanovic

SALT LAKE CITY — A toaster that was turned on accidentally nearly burned down the home of KSL NewsRadio host Debbie Dujanovic. So she shared her experience and then spoke with a firefighting official about how to prevent fires in your home.

Close call

Between 2012 and 2016, fire departments across the country responded to nearly 45,000 residential fires resulting from malfunctioning electric home appliances, according to Service Master.

Debbie got lucky, she woke up in time. But she said that getting up and moving toward her kitchen wasn’t a coincidence. She credits her “inner nagging voice” for prevented her from waking in the middle of the night surrounded by flames.

Earlier, putting away her toaster, she had accidentally turned it on. As she tried to fall asleep, a voice in her head told to go check for a document she needed for the next day. Her “lazy voice” urged her to stay in bed and try to slip into sleep. The pestering voice prevailed. She got out of bed, walked down the hall and into the kitchen where she smelled burning plastic. 

Smoke was coming from the toaster, which had turned bright red. The plug in the outlet had melted. Debbie said she knows if she hadn’t heeded her inner voice, her house may very well have burned down.

Tips from a firefighter

Riley Pilgrim, assistant fire chief for United Fire Authority, joined Debbie on the air to discuss home fire hazards.

Pilgrim said the appliances that concern firefighters are those that generate a lot of heat. Problems happen, he warned, when people are distracted and forget food cooking on the stove or in the oven or microwave. 

Pets can start fires, too

A candle is burning in an unoccupied bedroom. The cat jumps on the dresser and knocks the candle over and onto the carpet, which begins to burn.

“It’s easy to walk out of the room and forget that you have [a candle] going,” Pilgrim said. “I have a dog at home, and he’s gotten on the stove to get food, and somehow he’s turned on the burner.”  

Debbie said she replaced a bathroom countertop with wood and burns a candle on top of it all the time.

“Now I’m gonna go home and change my countertop, too,” she said.

Change the batteries in smoke detectors

Along with tips on how to avoid housefires, Pilgrim reminded Debbie to change the batteries of her smoke detectors when Daylight Saving Time begins in the spring and ends in the fall.

And he had another piece of advice, too.

“We just want to encourage people to be safe. If they ever have an emergency in their home, never hesitate to call 911,” Pilgrim said.

In the future, Debbie said that when she gets a new toaster she will follow the advice of the experts: Unplug the toaster when it is not in use. 

“I’m going to do that, that’s an easy lesson. The harder lesson for me is to remember to listen to my gut,” she said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.