Cooking a leading fire source |

Cooking a leading fire source

Year after year, hundreds of people are killed and thousands are injured as a result of one of humankind’s most essential and pleasurable activities: cooking.

The pursuit of a home-cooked meal remains the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, according to new data from the National Fire Protection Association.

As the holidays bring a heightened emphasis on cooking, the NFPA wants to get the word out that people can enjoy a safe holiday — if they stay at the stove while they’re preparing hot food. In six out of seven incidents in a study of home-cooking fires, ignition occurred while the cook was out of the kitchen.

In 1999, there were 96,200 home structure fires attributed to cooking equipment, including 1,800 fires confined to a cooking vessel. These fires resulted in 331 civilian deaths, 4,183 civilian injuries, and $511.3 million in direct property damage. Three out of four home cooking fires involve the range. And two-thirds of the time, according to one study, the fires start within the first 15 minutes of cooking.

People often try to put out cooking fires on their own, and more than half of non-fatal cooking fire injuries occurred while fighting the fire. With cooking fires, the safest response is not what may first come to mind. Using a fire extinguisher or applying water risk splattering and spreading the fire. A safer choice is to smother the fire by covering a pan with a lid or closing the oven door.

The NFPA advises these safety steps during cooking:

n Don’t leave cooking food unattended.

n Roll up sleeves and don’t wear loose clothing.

n Ban children and pets from a three-foot “safe zone” around the stove.

n Keep pot handles turned in to avoid spills

n Keep pot holders, dish towels, food packaging and other clutter off the stovetop.

n Clean cooking equipment; built-up grease can catch fire.

Brought to you by Craig Rural Fire Protection District and Craig Daily Press for a fire safe Moffat County

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