The St. Clair Fire Protection District is targeting residential kitchens as it observes Fire Protection Week from Oct. 6-12.
The local district is teaming with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Academy to remind residents about the dangers of kitchen fires and that most of them occur because of unattending cooking.
“The theme reminds us that leaving cooking unattended and other unsafe kitchen practices are a recipe for disaster,” St. Clair Fire Capt. Andy Branscum said.
According to the latest NFPA research, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. About two out of every five residential fires begin in the kitchen, more than any other place in the home. Cooking fires also are 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,” Branscum said. “Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. The bottom line is that there is really no safe period of time for the cook to step away from a hot stove.
“We hope that Fire Prevention Week will help us reach folks in the community before they’ve suffered a damaging lesson.”
Among the safety tips local firefighters and safety advocates will be emphasizing throughout the week are:
•Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, broiling or boiling food.
•Turn off the stove if leaving the room for any reason or period of time.
•If simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, stay inside the home and use a timer as a reminder.
•With young children present, use back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
•When cooking, 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 the stove top.
•Clean up food and grease from burners and stove tops.
Information from the SCFPD states that if a kitchen or any fire starts, leave the home, close the door to help contain the fire and call 911.
If an individual decides to try to snuff out a smaller kitchen fire, make sure there is a clear way out.
Keep a lid nearby to cover a small grease fire. Turn off the heat and keep the door closed if there is an oven fire.
“A cooking fire can quickly turn deadly,” Branscum said. “I have seen too many homes destroyed and people killed or injured by fires that could have been easily avoided. Please heed these simple safety rules.
“We firefighters would like to be in your kitchen, but only when you invite us for dinner.”
Branscum said in relation to kitchen fires, his warning would be, “Keep an eye on what you fry.”
Next week, St. Clair Elementary School pupils will visit House 1 on North Avenue and learn about fire safety between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Monday, Oct. 14, Franklin County Cooperative students will visit. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church daycare students will visit House 1 while Lonedell youth will visit House 2.
Also next week, St. Clair Domino’s Pizza is teaming with the local fire district on Wednesday.
From 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, anyone who orders a pizza may be randomly selected and surprised at their door when the food is delivered via a fire truck. If the smoke alarms in the selected homes are working, the pizza will be free. If the alarms are not working, firefighters will replace the batteries in them.