Observe Fire Prevention Week October 3-9
Oct. 3-9 is Fire Prevention Week! The National Fire Protection Association (NPFA), sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 95 years, is once again spreading awareness of the importance of stopping fires before they start.
It should come as no surprise that the number one cause of house fires and injuries in the United States is unattended cooking in the kitchen. According to the NFPA, firefighters respond to nearly 500 cooking fire calls each day, and of those, 60 percent involved stovetops and another 13 percent started with oven accidents.
With the holidays nearing, you may want to take special precautions while you are celebrating, as the busiest day of the year for kitchen fires typically falls on Thanksgiving, followed by the day before Thanksgiving, then Christmas and Christmas Eve.
Whether you will be hosting (and cooking for) a holiday celebration or preparing everyday meals, check out our simple tips from the NFPA, the American Red Cross, and the dummies.com newsletter to keep things safe.
Tips to Prevent Kitchen Fires
- Keep all kitchen appliances clean and in good repair.
- Don’t use your oven or stovetop if you are groggy or have consumed alcohol.
- Don’t leave flammable items such as oven mitts, wooden spoons, food packaging, or kitchen towels close to your stovetop while you are cooking.
- Never leave your kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- Any time you are cooking with oil or grease, heat the oil slowly and remove the pan and turn off the burner if it begins to smoke. Keep a lid or pan nearby to quickly snuff out a fire if necessary.
- Remain in the kitchen if you are simmering, baking or roasting food. Check it regularly, and set a timer to check on it. If you must leave, turn the burners off.
- Use caution when lighting the pilot light or burner on a gas stove. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Don’t use metal dishes or containers in the microwave. This can create sparks that could turn into a fire.
- Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
- Don’t wear loose clothing when cooking, and tie long hair back.
One-third of all reported home cooking fires, and more than half of the associated deaths, are linked to unattended cooking equipment. The biggest culprit: frying.
NFPA reports that adults ages 55 and over are most likely to be involved in cooking fires, and children under 5 are most frequently injured in the kitchen as a result of touching hot surfaces or being scalded by hot liquids. And more than half of those attempting to put out a kitchen fire themselves were injured.
What to Do if You Have a Cooking Fire
Being prepared in the event of a kitchen fire can prevent injuries or death. Knowing what to do ahead of time can prevent tragedies. Go over the tips below from FireRescue1 and the NFPA with all family members who cook in your home.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking in case a small grease fire pops up. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan, then quickly turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- Smother out flames from small, manageable fires by pouring baking soda over it.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed until it cools completely.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out, and you have a clear way out.
- If the initial fire is large, growing and in the path of flammable materials, quickly make sure your family members evacuate, then get out. Close the door behind you to contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 only after you leave.
It’s wise to keep a fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach spot, but remember that they are only effective for fires no larger than an office trash can. According to Safewise, fires double every 30 seconds and can quickly get out of control.
Help spread this safety info to help stop fires before they start.
Prepare for Fires with Homeowners and Renters Insurance
One way to prepare for a kitchen fire in your home is to purchase a quality homeowners or renters insurance policy from Colorado Farm Bureau Insurance. To learn more about our comprehensive policies and superior customer service, contact a local agent using our Agent Finder.