This week is Fire Prevention Week, so let’s spend a minute or two today reminding ourselves how to prevent a cooking fire. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, according the National Fire Prevention Association, and one in every 8 households will have a cooking fire this year. Two out of five home fires begins in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home. From 2004 to 2008, 155,000 home structure fires were caused by cooking equipment and caused 460 deaths, 4850 injuries, and $724 million in property damage. The peak day for home cooking fires is Thanksgiving.
1. The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking – 34% of all home cooking fires were caused by unattended cooking, and 48% of all deaths related to cooking fires were caused by unattended cooking. The first, and most important rule, is to watch what you heat and stay alert. Never leave food cooking on the stove or in the oven unattended. Turn off the stove if you need to leave, even if it’s only for a short time.
2. It’s important to know what you should do if you have a cooking fire. Smother a stovetop fire by sliding a lid over the pan (wearing an oven mitt) and turn off the burner. Keep the lid on the pan until it’s completely cool. For an oven or microwave fire, turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and unplug the oven or microwave if you can safely reach the outlet. Be sure to have the equipment serviced before you use it again.
3. If you have a cooking fire that isn’t manageable, just get out and get everyone else out of the building. Close the door behind you and call 911.
4. The area around the stove should be kept clean and clear of things. Papers, potholders, bags, curtains, and towels that get too close can start a fire. 19% of all fire deaths occurred when something that could catch fire was too close to the equipment.
5. Have working smoke alarms. Replace the batteries twice a year, when you change the clocks, and check the smoke detectors at least once a month.
6. Keep kids away from a three foot cooking zone around the stove and around areas where hot food or drink is prepared or placed. Never hold a child while cooking. Place hot objects where they cannot be pulled or knocked over. Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge. Use the back burners to keep hot things away from young children and keep appliance cords away from counter edges.
7. Wear tight fitting, rolled up, or short sleeves when you cook to prevent your clothes from catching on fire. Remember to STOP, DROP, and ROLL if your clothes do catch on fire – running just fans the flames!
8. If you do get burned, know basic burn first aid. Cool a burn with cool water for 3-5 minutes or longer. If the burn is bigger than your fist or if it is blistering, seek medical attention.
NFPA's tool kit on cooking safety includes everything you need to help you launch a cooking safely campaign in your community.
~ Wayne & Jean
Union County, NJ - a great place to live and work!
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