The historic forest fires burning in the western United States have focused attention on the dangers of wildland fires, but across the nation, but more than three-quarters of fire deaths and injuries occur in residential properties. Kitchen fires and cooking are the leading causes of residential fires. For 2020, Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 4-10, is themed “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” and aims to reduce kitchen fires.
“If we could all focus on preventing fires in the kitchen and take some simple steps to prevent these fires, it would save a tremendous number of lives, and reduce injuries and property damage,” State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. “Staying in the kitchen while cooking and avoiding distractions are good places to start.”
Forty-four percent of reported home fires start in the kitchen, according to the National Fire Protection Association; 66 percent of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials, according to the NFPA.
Fire Marshal Bean shared these tips:
• The kitchen is an ideal place to keep a fire extinguisher. Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher stored in a visible location; family members should know where it is kept and be familiar with how to use it.
• Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop.
• Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
• Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
• Keep your cooking area clean. Do not let grease build up on the range top, toaster oven or in the oven.
• If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
• You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
In the 10 years from 2008 to 2017, the U.S. had an annual average of more than 1.34 million fires, resulting in 3,190 deaths, 16,225 civilian injuries and $14.7 billion in direct property loss, according to a U.S. Fire Administration report.
As a reminder, the end of Daylight Saving Time, 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, when clocks are adjusted to “fall back” an hour, can serve as an easy reminder to change smoke and CO alarm batteries once a year. Remember, when you change the time, change the batteries. Always have properly installed and maintained smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
More tips on a variety of fire safety topics are available on the Division of Fire Safety website at: https://dfs.dps.mo.gov/safetytips/.