Ask a Firefighter

Posted: Monday, December 01, 2003

Every day in the United States, more than 100,000 fires start in the kitchen, killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands. Cooking is the No. 1 cause of fires in the home, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage each year.

Question: What steps can we take to reduce the number of fires in the kitchen, while reducing the number of fire-related fatalities and injuries?

Answer: By simply following the basic safety tips list below, we can prevent cooking fires and learn how to fight them if they get started:

To prevent a cooking fire:

Don't leave cooking unattended.

Wear close-fitting sleeves when cooking.

Keep appliances clean.

Turn pot handles in.

Use potholders when removing food from microwaves and ovens.

To put out a cooking fire:

First, call the fire department immediately.

For pan fires, slide a pan lid over the flames to smother a grease oil fire, then turn off the heat and leave the lid in place until the pan cools. Never carry the pan outside.

Another way to extinguish food fires is with baking soda. Never use water or flour on cooking fires.

For oven fires, keep the oven door shut and turn off the heat to smother an oven or broiler fire.

Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, making sure you have the right type and training. Portable fire extinguishers can be effective in fighting small, contained fires.

First aid for burns:

Run cool water over a burn for 10 to 15 minutes. This will minimize skin damage and ease the pain. Never apply butter or other grease to a burn. If burned skin is blistered or charred, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

This column was provided by Gary Hale, fire marshal at Central Emergency Services. To submit a question to an law enforcement or emergency services agency on the central peninsula, write to the Clarion at P.O. Box 3009, Kenai, AK 99611, e-mail clarion@alaska.net or fax 283-3299.



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