Dangers of cooking fires in focus for Fire Prevention Week
YFD: 2 of every 5 home blazes start in the kitchen
Fire departments throughout the country responded to an estimated 156,600 cooking-related fires between 2007-2011. Those fires resulted in 400 deaths, 5,080 injuries and $853 million in direct damage, which is why the Yuma Fire Department has chosen to make cooking fires the topic of the fourth day of National Fire Prevention Week.
Yuma-area residents are being reminded that a fire can happen anywhere inside a home, so it’s important to pay attention to areas like bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens — where fires are most likely to occur. According to YFD: • Two of every five home fires start in the kitchen.
• Unattended cooking was the most frequent cause.
• Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
While stovetops are among the most dangerous appliances in any household, microwave ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burn injuries not related to fires.
Also, the heat from a stove, electric frying pan or other type of cooking equipment can ignite your clothes. Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1 percent of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 15 percent of the cooking fire deaths.
It is also important to use extreme caution when cooking while children are present. Children under 5 face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking and hot food and drinks than being burned in a cooking fire. They can also cause distractions for the cook.
While never leaving a burner unattended for more than a couple of minutes sounds like an easy rule to follow, it can actually be harder than one would think. So never leave things cooking on the stove unattended, keep clutter away from cooking surfaces and wear clothing free of loose, dangling sleeves,
YFD recommends a “Kid Free Zone” of at least 3 feet from cooking surfaces and to always turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent children from grabbing handles and spilling hot stuff onto themselves.
YFD responded to several serious cooking-related fires over the summer. Fortunately, there were no injuries in any of those fires, but they do serve as reminders to “Watch what you heat” and never leave stovetop cooking unattended.
The peak time of year for cooking fires is between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that time of year isn’t far away.