Tips for preventing kitchen fires

Tips for preventing kitchen fires
Image courtesy Flickr user State Farm. (Creative Commons 2.0 license)
It's National Fire Prevention Week -- a good time to remind you that most house fires start in the kitchen.

Bud Backer, Deputy Chief with East Side Fire and Rescue says multi-tasking is often to blame.

"We end up with fires that occur because people have started cooking something and walk away to do something else and then whatever they were cooking catches fire,” he said.

Another problem: If a fire starts in the kitchen, most people aren't prepared to deal with it.

"It's advisable to have a fire extinguisher, but you don't even need to go that far as long as you have a lid that you can pop onto the pan that will fit securely and smother the fire,” Backer said. “That's the quickest and easiest way to extinguish a fire that hasn't flashed out of the pan that you're cooking in."

If the grease in a pan catches fire, don't try to move it to the sink, just cover it with a lid and smother the fire.

“People transferring it from the stove to the sink will spill it and now they have fire wherever they spilled the burning grease,” Bakker said.

And never throw water on a grease fire – it will flash up and get even bigger.

The Washington State Fire Marshall has these tips for preventing kitchen fires:

• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food.
• If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
• When you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, stay in the home, and use a timer to remind you.
• If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
• When you cook, 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 your stovetop.
• Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops.