Fire Safety and Prevention
Kitchen Fire Safety
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to 146,400 home structure fires that involved cooking equipment in 2005. These fires caused 480 civilian fire deaths, 4,690 civilian fire injuries, and $876 million in direct property damage. The preparation of the home cooked meal is the leading cause of home fire and fire injuries with unattended cooking accounting for 39% of these fires. Other leading causes are placing combustible items too close to the heat source and various electrical defects.
There are a variety of situations that lead to unattended cooking fires. The most common is when the cook becomes distracted and leaves the kitchen. The most common distractions are attending to children, answering phone calls or doorbells, and watching television.
You can reduce this risk. Here is a safety “recipe' to follow:
While you are cooking:
- Stay in the kitchen! Don't leave your cooking food unattended.
- Wear clothing that has short or tight fitting sleeves. Long loose sleeves are more likely to drag across heating elements and catch fire or get caught on pot handles.
- Consider enforcing a “kid free zone' of 3 feet around your stove. Be sure to turn pot handles inward facing the wall to prevent burns caused by overturning or spills.
- Keep the area around any heating elements clear of towels, pot holders, or anything that could burn.
- Regularly clean your cooking appliances to eliminate grease accumulation.
- Have a pot lid and oven mitt handy to smother a pan fire. If a pan catches fire, be sure to turn off the heat and using the oven mitt, slide the pot lid over the flaming pan. Allow the contents of the pan to cool before you attempt to move the pan from the stovetop. Never, ever use water to try to extinguish the fire. You will splash the flaming contents from the pan spreading the fire and possible causing serious burn injuries to yourself.
- If a fire starts in your oven, turn off the heat and leave the oven door closed.
- Be careful when entering cooking times into your microwave oven. It is very easy to accidentally enter more cooking time than is called for resulting in a fire inside the microwave. If that occurs, leave the door closed and attempt to unplug the unit.
By planning ahead, you can do a lot to prevent a fire. But, once a fire starts in your home, there are only three things to do: get everyone out of the house, close the door behind you, then, call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's home. Don't go back into a burning building, no matter what. If you thinks someone is trapped inside, tell the firefighters when they arrive.