Fire prevention week: Never leave cooking unattended

  • Published
  • By 72nd Air Base Wing
  • Tinker Fire and Emergency Services

It can be one of the most hazardous areas in your home. Do you know where it is? It's your kitchen.

Oct. 6-12 is National Fire Prevention Week and this year's theme is "Prevent Kitchen Fires." Tinker Fire and Emergency Services, in concert with the NFPA, is using this opportunity to educate the Tinker community in the importance of preventing kitchen fires and accidents.

Events this year include information displays and fire prevention trailer at the Base Exchange, fire trucks and Sparky at the Tinker Elementary School, Child Development Centers and Youth Center, and Balfour Beatty community center Thursday evening.

The National Fire Protection Association reports cooking fires as being the leading cause of home fires in the United States with fire departments responding to more than 156,000 home cooking fires annually. This equates to two of every five fires starting in the kitchen.

Unattended cooking was the leading cause of the fires reported. Most injuries occurred when the victims tried to move a pan off the stove or in trying to fight the fire themselves.
Children pose a higher risk of getting burns that are not associated with a fire, but from hot oils, boiling water, hot food or hot surfaces.

Things to remember:

· NEVER leave your cooking unattended. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the stove and take your pots and pans off the heat.

· DO NOT leave your microwave cooking unattended. If something catches fire do not open the door. Unplug the unit if possible until the fire goes out.

· Be aware of the items around the stovetop. Kitchen towels, oven mitts, appliance cords and even curtains can easily catch fire if set near a hot burner.
Always move flammable items away from your stovetop.

· Create a child-free zone around the stove or microwave to prevent burns. Turn pot handles inward. Before cooking anything look around the area and remove objects that can catch fire.

· Never throw water on a grease fire.

· Watch your clothing. Long, flowing sleeves, large-fitting shirts and even aprons can catch fire. When cooking, wear short or close-fitted sleeves and keep your baggy shirts tucked in or tied back with a well-fitted apron.

· Be prepared to put out a fire. The best thing to do if you have a stovetop fire is to put a proper fitting lid over the pan or pot to smother it. Never use water and never pick up a burning pan and put it in the sink. You not only risk spreading the fire, you risk getting badly burned if the burning ingredients slosh out ... and call 9-1-1 to report it .

· Keep a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen. In the event you do have a fire, an extinguisher can make the difference between an easy-to-clean-up burned pan and a kitchen engulfed in flames. Be sure you actually know how to use it.

· Have a fire escape plan. Those residents who have an escape plan and have practiced it have a better chance of escaping and surviving a fire without injury.

At work apply these same precautions. Something as simple as microwave cooking can have negative results if the cooking is left unattended or is overheated. The most common scenario is the worker who inputs the wrong cooking time and leaves for only a moment, resulting in smoke scare at the minimum, or worse, evacuation and fire department response.

National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate and remind us of two tragic fires in our history, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that took the lives of more 250 people and left more than 100,000 homeless, and the Peshtigo Forest fire that destroyed 16 towns and killed 1,152 people.