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According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA) there are 365,000 residential fires reported in the U.S. every year, or approximately 1,000 per day! For those of us living in the northeast we might assume a large percentage of those fires are a result of wood burning stoves but nationally only about 2.11% of the population heat with wood derived fuel.
What is the nature of the majority of these residential fires?
Cooking fires are the most common cause of home fires & home fire injuries in the United States.
What can you do to avoid this hazard?
- The biggest mistake people make is leaving the cooking area unattended. If you have to leave the area, turn off the grill, stove or oven & move the food from the heat source. A simple distraction like a phone call can leave a cooking area unattended for several minutes; more than enough time to start a fire.
- Keep your cooking area free of grease and oil build up. When cooking with grease or oil, know the smoking point. Once oil reaches its smoking point it can ignite and start a fire. Likewise, never dispose of hot oil in the garbage. Allow it to cool thoroughly before disposing it.
- Watch your clothing; loose baggy clothes can easily brush up against hot burners, hot food and easily get tangled in stoves. A hot pot or pan dropped as a result of tangled up clothing may not only start a fire but might also cause significant personal injury.
- Keep small children and pets out of the kitchen when cooking. The smells of food and shiny pots & pans make children as well as pets inquisitive. Children may reach for hot pots and pans injuring themselves or starting a fire. Pets can get underfoot and create a tripping hazard.
- Perhaps most importantly, know how to put out a fire and be prepared. Often times simply putting a lid over the burning pan smothers the flames. Do not attempt to move a burning pot or pan; it will only spread the fire. Have smoke alarms installed near the kitchen but no closer than 10-20 feet. Keep a fire extinguisher near by & know how to use it.