It's time for Fire Prevention Week, and from Oct. 8 through Oct. 14 the Payson Fire Department is joining forces with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to remind local residents to "Prevent cooking fires: Watch what you heat."
During this year's fire safety campaign, firefighters and safety advocates will be spreading the word about the dangers of cooking fires -- most of which result from unattended cooking -- and informing local residents how to prevent cooking fires from starting in the first place.
According to the latest NFPA research, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. One out of three home fires begins in the kitchen -- more than any other place in the home. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of home-fire related injuries.
Often when we're called to a fire that started in the kitchen, the residents tell us they only left the kitchen for a few minutes. Sadly, that's all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. We hope that Fire Prevention Week will help us raise an awareness in the community before they've suffered a damaging lesson.
Among the safety tips that firefighters are emphasizing:
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking.
- If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you have young children, use the stove's back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
- Wear short or close-fitting sleeves. Many injuries are caused when long full sleeves on a blouse or robe catch fire from open flames and even electrical units on a cooktop.
- Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels, and anything else that can burn, away from your stovetop.
- Clean cooking surfaces to prevent food and grease buildup.
But what if the worst happens, and a fire starts in the kitchen? What do you do?
- Smother grease or oil fires by sliding a pan lid over flames to suffocate the flames.
- Never carry the pan outside. Flames can fan back and catch clothing or hair on fire.
- Extinguish other food fires with baking soda.
- Never use water on cooking fires. Water can actually spread cooking fires.
- Keep the oven door shut and turn off the heat to smother an oven or broiler fire.
- Have an appropriate fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it.
- Always have working smoke detectors in your home.
- Call the fire department if a cooking fire does not go out immediately.