A rash of cooking fires has prompted Fire Chief John Gist to remind residents to use common sense and take simple precautions when using their stoves, ovens and cook-tops.
“Since January 1, we have responded to 78 fires that started in the kitchen and 15 people have been injured in these fires.” Gist said. “These injuries, as well as the property damage and financial loss, could have been avoided.” Overall, cooking fires account for 40 percent of the 197 building fires since Jan. 1, and 52 percent of the 29 injuries from building fires.
Nationwide, cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Nearly all cooking fires start with the ignition of food; cooking materials such as grease; or other nearby items such as cabinets, wall coverings, curtains and paper or plastic bags.
To prevent a cooking fire, follow these precautions:
- Always use cooking equipment approved by a recognized testing facility.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
- Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, towels or curtains - away from your stove top.
- Have a "kid-free zone" of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared.
- Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when cooking. If a grease fire starts in a pan, put on the mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and leave the lid on until it is completely cool.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from spreading. Have the oven serviced before you use it again.
- Never cook when you are drowsy, drinking alcohol excessively, or taking medication that makes you sleepy.
For more information about fire safety, go to National Fire Protection Association
City of Winston-Salem Fire Department