Refugees learn how to safely use kitchen appliances to prevent fires

Refugees learn how to safely use kitchen appliances to prevent fires

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Three recent fires in apartments off of Newport Road are catching the attention of local fire officials.

There have been three fires at apartment complexes off Newport Road. One of the fires displaced 30 people in September.

Buechel Fire officials said two of those fires were caused by cooking.

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Concerned by the spike in fires caused by cooking, Buechel Fire and Refuge International in Louisville teamed up Tuesday night to teach refugees in the area how to use home appliances, especially in the kitchen.

“Things we do on a daily basis are things they do for the first time when they get here,” Jordan Yuodis, a spokesman for Buechel Fire, said.

Refuge International Louisville Site Director Matthew Mihelic said the work with a lot of refugees, welcoming them and walking through the adjustments of living in America.

“It's so tough to see refugees flee violence from their home countries and then come here to start a new life and then face the dangers that come just by not knowing how to live life in America in a safe way,” Mihelic said.

The adjustment moving to America can be hard for some, especially when it comes to where they live and how to use kitchen appliances.

“Typically in the Congo most home cooks are going to be using charcoal stoves,” Mihelic said. “So they aren’t quite used to having to turn off the heat source. So it’s really just a basic pattern we want to get them into so that they can cook all their favorite foods from their home countries here in America just do it in a safe way.”

Refuge International and Buechel Fire taught a few Congo refugees Tuesday night the importance of turning an oven on to preheat and turning it off after finishing cooking. They demonstrated how to use the oven and stove by baking cookies and making tea.

Yuodis also stressed the importance of not using the stove as a heater in the winter and keeping kitchen towels off of the stove while it is on.

“[In the Congo] they don't house themselves in apartments or houses like this, they don't use our stoves, or our cleaning supplies,” Yuodis said. “They don't know what it means to clean a lint filter. So we want to teach them all of those things because all of those things are new to them.”

Yuodis also taught the refugees how to use a fire extinguisher in case of a fire.

One Congo refugee, Gentirre Mukanohere, has been in Louisville for two months. She said she has used an oven before, but learned some new things about how to use it properly.

"I didn't know that I have to heat the oven before I use it,” Mukanohere said. “So if I use the oven, sometimes maybe, I will make mistake, but now I know what to do."

Mukanohere translated in English for her neighbors who were also learning how to use the appliances safely. They said they were appreciative and it was very important for them to learn.

“For instance, I learned today that when I don’t have a fire extinguisher in my house the first thing to do is to run out and quickly and then call 911,” one refugee said to Mukanohere who translated.

Yuodis said the apartments there are older and most don't have a type of fire wall so the fire spreads quickly.

For more information on Refuge International, click or tap here.

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