Unattended cooking: recipe for disaster

Help prevent kitchen fires – Stand by your pan and keep an eye on what you fry. That’s the message from the National Fire Prevention Association for Fire Prevention Week – Prevent Kitchen Fires – Oct. 6-12 and from the Rockwall Fire Department.

Rockwall firefighters will celebrate the week with its 10th annual Open House on October 12 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Fire Station #2, 920 Rockwall Parkway. This always-popular free family event will include food, fun activities, important fire safety tips for home and family and the opportunity to visit with firefighters and view their equipment.

During October, department members will visit city elementary schools to deliver the message that cooking is the leading cause of home fires, which are the leading cause of home fire-related injuries and to provide general fire safety tips.

“Two of every five home fires begin in the kitchen,” said Ariana Hargrove, the city’s Fire Marshal. “That’s more than any place in the home. Often, when we’re called to a kitchen fire, residents tell us they only left the kitchen for a few minutes. Sadly, that’s all it takes for a dangerous fire to start.”

How often have you left something cooking on the stove while you go to answer the door, forgotten about the food and returned to a burning pan? It’s a familiar scenario that illustrates how easy it is to run the risk of having a dangerous fire, Ms. Hargrove noted.

“As Fire Marshal of the City of Rockwall, I often talk to people about the ways they can stay safe in their homes. Too often, we have that talk after they’ve suffered a damaging fire,” she said. “It’s my hope that people reading this article won’t have to learn the hard way. If I could give just one fire warning, I’d say, ‘Keep an eye on what you fry!’”

Firefighters urge you to take a minute and review these important kitchen fire safety tips they will be emphasizing in October:
• Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, broiling or boiling food.
• If you must leave the room – even for a short time, turn off the stove.
• Check food you are simmering, baking or roasting regularly, stay in the home and use a timer as a reminder.
• Enforce a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove to keep children away from cooking areas.
• Keep all items that can burn (potholders, wooden utensils, paper and plastic bags) away from stovetop.

If a fire starts in the microwave, turn it off and keep the door closed. Don’t open it until the fire is completely out. In case of a small grease fire in a pan, smother flames by sliding lid over the pan (wear an oven mitt), then turn off the burner. Don’t move the pan and never pour water on a grease fire. If it doesn’t go out, get out of the home and call the fire department.

“A cooking fire can quickly turn deadly,” said Ms. Hargrove. “I’ve seen too many homes destroyed and people killed or injured by fires that could easily be avoided. Please heed these simple safety rules. We firefighters would like to be in your kitchen, but only when invited for dinner!”
Rockwall Fire Prevention week

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in the City of Rockwall, please contact the Rockwall Fire Department at 972-771-7770.

Judy Evans
City of Rockwall

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