Nashville, TN – As Tennesseans spend even more time indoors during February’s winter weather emergency, the State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds residents to take extra care while inside, especially in the kitchen.
Cooking is currently the leading cause of home fires and fire deaths in Tennessee. From 2009-2013, 9,595 residential cooking fires were reported in the state, resulting in 33 deaths, 118 injuries and $41.7 million in property damage.
Unattended equipment was a contributing factor in 9.21 percent of cooking fires.
Abandoned/discarded materials, which may be related to unattended equipment, was a factor in 19.15 percent of Tennessee cooking fires.
Fire departments and burn centers alike can attest to the devastation that can stem from unattended cooking.
Often when fire departments are called to a cooking-related fire, the residents inform them that they only left the kitchen for a few minutes. Sadly, that’s all it takes to turn a routine activity into a tragedy.
The best way to avoid the devastation that stovetop fires can cause is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, and broiling. If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove: Put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding a lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan. Turn off the burner. Don’t remove the lid until the fire is out and the pan is completely cool.
- Never pour water on a grease fire.
- If possible, avoid discharging a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, spreading the fire and causing burns.
- Do not try to carry the pan away from the stove. Trying to carry a pot or pan full of burning oil can slosh and splash the hot grease, as well as feed more oxygen to the already burning fire.
- If the fire does not go out, get everyone out of the home, closing doors behind you to contain the fire. Call the fire department from outside using a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone.