Most of us, if not all, are sometimes prone to do it.
Multitasking while in the kitchen cooking is an art form all within itself, but one that the Lee’s Summit Fire Department and others around the country are addressing this week as part of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12.
Jim Eden, assistant fire chief for the Lee’s Summit Fire Department, said during this year’s fire safety campaign fire departments around the country will spread the word about the dangers of kitchen fires – most of which result from unattended cooking.
“Our experience with cooking fires is the same experience that we have nationally,” Eden said. “As an investigator, I can start out my report the same on almost every one (involving a kitchen fire). Never leave food unattended on the stove. Always be aware that when you are cooking you need to stay with it. If there are things you can do to eliminate distraction while you are cooking, do so, but stay with whatever it is that you are cooking.”
According to the latest National Fire Protection Association research, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Two out of every five home fires begin 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 that they only left the kitchen for a few minutes,” said Keith Martin, chief of the LSFD. “Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. We hope that Fire Prevention Week will help us reach folks in the community before they’ve suffered a damaging lesson.”
Added Eden: “As soon as you see fire, remember call the fire department and get everybody out of the house. If the fire is out when we get there that is fantastic, but we want to be on the way because they do grow and they grow rapidly.”
Eden, who is also responsible for fire prevention with the LSFD, said fire prevention is a year around effort for the department.
“Fire prevention shouldn’t be something that is just one week,” he said. “It’s something that we should practice year-round. When we look at the number of (fire-related) deaths that occur in this country, 80 percent occur in the home, roughly. That’s why we need to be aware of our own surroundings. Even though we are comfortable there, we get very complacent there. That’s why it is important to have a heighten awareness of what’s going on in your home.”
The department kicked off its annual education component Oct. 1 in area schools with an emphasis on fire safety education.
“That’s a program we’ve had in place that provides life safety education to every kid in the first, third and fifth grades in all of the schools within the Lee’s Summit (R-7) School District, as well as the two Blue Springs (School District) schools and the two private schools we have here in town,” Eden said. “That’s something that we have been doing well over 20 years.”
To prevent cooking fires and injuries remember the following:
Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food.
If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
When you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home, and use a timer to remind you.
If you have young children, keep the handles turned to the side or use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three away from the stove.
When you cook, wear clothing with tight-fitting sleeves.
Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags, towels, and anything else that can burn, away from your stovetop.
Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops. Keep a lid nearby to slide it over the pan if it should catch fire, and turn off the burner.
In case of a fire in the oven, turn it off and keep the door closed.
Call 911 to report your fire- even if you think you’ve put it out.
In addition to preventing kitchen fires, increase your chances of surviving a fire in your home by having working smoke alarms, and developing and practicing a home fire escape plan.
To find out more about Fire Prevention Week and how to prevent kitchen fires visit NFPA’s Web site at www.firepreventionweek.org, or contact the Lee’s Summit Fire Department at 816-969-1300, or on the web at www.lsfire.net.