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Extra care needed when in the kitchen

October 7, 2013
The Herald-Star

One of the best ways to prevent a fire in your home is to practice safety in the kitchen.

This week is national Fire Prevention Week, with the theme of preventing kitchen fires.

The National Fire Protection Association reported cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment. Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires. The National Fire Protection Association also reported three in 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home. Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

There was an annual average of 156,000 cooking-related fires between 2007 and 2011, resulting in 400 deaths and 5,080 injuries, the fire association reported.

Cooking can be dangerous if safety is ignored. Common sense can make cooking safer and staying at the stove when cooking is just a beginning.

Two out of three reported home cooking fires start with the range or stove. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in the kitchen to quickly extinguish a cooking fire. Grease fires can be dangerous so don't throw water on them because it can cause it to spread.

Never leave food on the stove cooking unattended. A fire can quickly start and spread. Turn off the stove if you leave the room, even for a brief amount of time.

Other safe cooking tips include:

* If there are young children in the home, use the stove's back burners. Make a safety zone around the stove to keep children and pets away from the stove.

* Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops.

* Keep towels, oven mitts, wood utensils and other items that can catch fire away from the stove.

Make sure the home is equipped with working smoke detectors that can alert the family in the event of a fire, no matter what time of the day.

Candles also are used in the kitchen to eliminate cooking odors and to decorate the table. Candles can be dangerous if left unattended.

With the weather turning colder today, it won't be long before residents are relying upon heating equipment to warm the home. Kerosene and space heaters can provide additional heat but must be used with caution. Keep heaters at least 3 feet away from combustibles - especially blankets and curtains. Turn off heaters when not in the room or when it is time to go to bed.

Furnaces and chimneys also need to be inspected at this time of the year.

Practice fire escape routes with all members of the family.

Fire Prevention Week is a good time to review fire safety in the home. Taking the time to be safe can prevent a disaster.

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