The Pueblo West View

Fire prevention week targets kitchen fires

It’s happened to nearly all of us.

The kitchen burners turn on for a nightly dinner, and the phone rings, or the children are ill or someone knocks on the door.

Before long — sometimes even after dinner is served — the burners are still on.

This year, the Pueblo West Fire Department is encouraging fire safety in the kitchen for Fire Safety Prevention Week.

This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires by National Fire Protection Association.

Some safety tips to looks out for include the following:

• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.

If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

• 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 are cooking.

• Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

• Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.

• Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can

dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

• Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

• Always use cooking equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

• Follow manufacturer’s instructions and code requirements when installing, cleaning, and operating cooking equipment.

• Plug microwave ovens or other cooking appliances directly into an outlet.

Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

• Check electrical cords for cracks, breaks, or damage.

For those who forget to turn off those burners, here are a few tips if you have a cooking fire:

• Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

• Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.

• Always keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking.

If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan.

Turn off the burner.

Do not move the pan.

To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.

• In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

After a fire, the oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

In 2011, cooking was involved in an estimated 156,300 home structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments. These fires caused:

• 470 deaths,

• 5,390 injuries, and

• $1 billion in direct property damage.

Cooking caused almost half (44 percent) of reported home fires, one of every five (19 percent) home fire deaths, two of every five (39 percent) home fire injuries, and 15 percent of the direct property damage from home fires in 2011.

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