fire marshal offers fire prevention tips during annual Fire Prevention Week
Cooking Fires -- Watch What You Heat' theme focuses on leading cause
of home fires and injuries
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[OCT. 12, 2006]
SPRINGFIELD -- Cooking fires are the leading cause
of home fires and home fire injuries, resulting in hundreds of
deaths and nearly 4,000 injuries in the U.S. each year. That's why
the Office of the State Fire Marshal is joining fire officials
across the country during national Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14,
to increase awareness of home cooking fire dangers.
"Most cooking fires can be prevented if people just follow some
common-sense precautions," said State Fire Marshal Dave Foreman.
"For instance, many home cooking fires could be prevented if people
simply stayed in the kitchen while food is cooking on the stove top.
That way they can keep an eye on what's cooking and react quicker if
something catches on fire."
According to the
National Fire Protection Association,
the organization that sponsors national Fire Prevention Week, most
reported home cooking fires stay small, with 71 percent of the
incidents confined to the object of origin. Even so, 38 percent of
the reported injuries and 8 percent of the fatalities resulted from
these small fires. In addition to injuries and deaths, home cooking
fires also result in an estimated half billion dollars in damage to
homes and their contents.
In Illinois, cooking fires were the No. 1 cause of house fires in
2005, according to fire statistics submitted to the National Fire
Incident Reporting System.
Foreman offered a number of safe cooking tips:
cooking food on the stove top unattended, and keep a close eye
on food cooking inside the oven.
If you must leave
the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
Always use cooking
equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
Keep cooking areas
clean and clear of combustibles, such as potholders, towels,
rags, drapes and food packaging.
Keep children away
from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free" zone of three feet
around the stove.
When children are
in the home, use the stove's back burners whenever possible, and
turn pot handles back to reduce the risk that pots with hot
contents will be knocked over.
close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose
clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
Never use a wet
oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the
mitt is heated.
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Always keep a
potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a
pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by
carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner.
Don't remove the lid until it is completely cool.
Never pour water
on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a
pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the
kitchen, actually spreading the fire.
If there is an
oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent
flames from burning you and your clothing.
If there is a
microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave.
Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced
before you use it again.
Foreman said his office is also using Fire Prevention Week to
remind people about other fire safety issues, including the
importance of working smoke alarms in homes.
"I really can't stress enough the importance of having a working
smoke detector in every home," Foreman said. "Seventy percent of all
home fire fatalities occur in homes with no smoke alarms or alarms
that aren't working. Putting smoke detectors on every level of your
home, particularly near sleeping areas, and making sure those
detectors are working can save your life and the lives of those you
The fire marshal also reminds people that a new law goes into
effect Jan. 1, 2007, that will require carbon monoxide detectors to
be placed within 15 feet of sleeping areas in all Illinois homes.
Foreman said the law, signed by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich this summer,
will save lives by alerting people to an invisible killer.
For more fire prevention tips, visit
addition, fire departments throughout Illinois are joining the
Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Fire Protection
Association to bring the message of Fire Prevention Week to their
communities. Contact your local fire department to found out what
activities are planned in your community.
[News release from the
Office of the State Fire