The Ottumwa Courier

October 14, 2013

Most kitchen fires can be avoided

By Capt. Vern Milburn Centerville Fire Department
The Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — Can kitchen fires be avoided? To answer that question we must look at two things. First, do we have the facts as to what a safe kitchen should be? Then after reviewing our own kitchen does it fit within these guidelines?

So back to our original question, "Can most kitchen fires be avoided? I believe the answer would be yes! But in order for this to happen we as individuals must step up to the plate and ask ourselves one very important question, "How much do we value our belongings and most importantly, our family?" We all must find the time to evaluate our homes and make not only our kitchens but our entire homes safe from fire. With this in mind reality tells us that there could still be the chance that an unseen problem could occur and we could have a fire somewhere in our home. But I believe that by getting the facts and making the effort we will greatly enhance our chances of not having a fire. Making our homes fire safe is no different than doing preventive maintenance on our family vehicle, making sure our children make it to school safely or looking both ways before crossing the street. The first step would be to install smoke detectors in all living spaces including bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms. Also in laundry rooms and in basements. The Centerville Fire Department has a program that provides a home owner up to three smoke detectors installed in the home free of charge. If the property owner wishes to install them they will have that option. Having a fire extinguisher in the home is a must.

Here are some tips that could help your kitchen be fire safe:

1. Never leave a hot stove unattended. If you must leave turn off the stove.

2. Put a lid on grease fires. Never use water to try and put the fire out.

3. For deep frying it is recommended to use a deep fryer with temperature control instead of heating oil on the stove.

4. If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Be sure to have the oven serviced before using again.

5. Teach children not to play around the stove. Establish a three foot "No Child Zone."

6. Never try and carry a burning pan out doors or to the sink. This often results in spilling the liquid. This will cause burns and will spread the fire.

7. Do not wear loose fitting clothing while cooking. Clothing can catch fire just by simply brushing up against a hot pan.

8. Remember, "Stop, Drop and Roll" is not just for kids. If your cloths catch fire do the drill.

9. Keep handles from pans on the stove turned in so they won't get knocked off and small children can't reach them.

10. When removing hot pans from the stove use mitts or a hot pad.

Microwaves:

1. If fire starts unplug if possible and don't open the door.

2. Stay in kitchen when cooking.

3. Never use aluminum foil or anything metal.

4. Allow food to cool at least two minutes after removing it from the oven.

5. Open food away from face to prevent steam burns.

Keeping these kitchen safety tips in mind will help keep you and your family safe from burns and fire. Keep in mind when using a stove with an electric coil in a conventional oven or a smooth top the temperature could reach as much as 800 degrees Fahrenheit. If your stove has a gas flame those can reach 1000 degrees fahrenheit.

Sometimes we get caught up in thinking that it won't happen to me. Maybe it won't, but when it comes to our family's safety, do we really want to wage it on that? Did you know that 1/5 of all home fires in the US start in t'he kitchen? Remember, if you do have a fire in your home no matter how small, do not hesitate to call 911 for the fire department and have them check it out even if you think it is out. Small fires can hide in walls and ceilings and smolder for hours until coming out unexpectedly.