Flare-ups show the need to cook safely

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 20:00
Kitchen and cooking fires do millions of dollars worth of damage every year in the U.S. Some simple guidelines can help prevent cooking fires. With autumn coming, people are indoors cooking more often – and as Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, the risk increases. Keep your loved ones and your home safer by exercising common sense and caution in the kitchen.

During the past week, kitchen fires have been on the rise here at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at an alarming rate.

Minor injuries occurred because incorrect actions were taken and an attempt was made to move a fiery pan outside.

Grease fires are very dangerous and can be catastrophic if not handled correctly.

Fortunately, most cooking fires can be prevented by paying attention and adhering to some simple rules.

If you have a grease fire, do not attempt to move the pot or pan.

Cover it with a lid or cookie sheet. Turn the stove off. Call 911. Do not remove the lid or cookie sheet after placing it on the pot or pan.

The JBER Fire Prevention Office wants to ensure everyone is conducting themselves properly when in the kitchen.

The primary method to prevent grease fires is to be attentive while you are cooking.

This means staying in the kitchen while you are cooking - the whole time.

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the Department of Defense and the United States.

There were 156,500 residential fires, causing 331 fatalities 4,914 injuries and $876 million in property damage.

Unattended cooking accounts for 90 percent of these fires additionally the leading first material ignited being oil, fat or grease.

Here are some home cooking safety tips to help prevent fires:

• Never leave food cooking on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.

• Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (like potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging)

• Keep children and pets away from cooking areas by creating a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the stove.

• Turn pot handles inward so they can't be bumped and children can't grab them.

• Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto the stove burners and catch fire or knock a pot off of the stove.

• Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.

• Placing the pan's lid on the pan (smothering the fire) is the preferred method of extinguishment if the fire has not spread from the pan - ensure the stove is turned off.

• Never pour water on a grease fire and be very careful if you have to discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire. An extinguisher can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire. Start from about eight to 10 feet back when using a fire extinguisher.

• For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent fire spread and burns.

• If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave.

• Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot and cause burns, as well.

• Remove the lids or other coverings from microwaved food carefully to prevent steam burns.

• If you are on JBER, call 911 whether the fire is extinguished or not.

The Fire Prevention Office on JBER is there to provide fire prevention and life saving tips.

Call 552-2620 if you have questions on this or any other fire prevention subject.

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