Cooking Fires

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					                          PREVENTING COOKING FIRES

This week’s column focuses on preventing the leading cause of home fires in the US.
According to the US Fire Administration, cooking fires are the leading cause of home
fires and are easily preventable. The New Milford Fire Marshal Office statistics and
investigations support this national average. The greatest incidence of building fires in
New Milford involves ovens and ranges.

Since 82% of all fire deaths occur in the home, preventing a primary cause of those fires
is a significant step in protecting your health and safety. And as reiterated in past
columns, having working smoke detectors in your home reduces your risk of dying in a
fire by nearly half.

When cooking always be vigilant. A fire can start in an instant. Never leave cooking
unattended, and never leave your oven in self-cleaning mode when you are not home or
when you are asleep. We recommend using a timer to remind you that the oven is in use.
You may also want to consider avoiding outside distractions while cooking such as
telephone calls, watching television, etc. so that you do not forget to check on your food.

When cooking where short or tight-fitting sleeves. This prevents you from igniting your
clothing on hot burners, or accidentally catching a pot handle and tipping it off of the
stovetop. Should your clothes ever catch on fire, please remember to Stop, Drop and Roll.

Turn pot handles in so that children cannot reach them and so that you are less likely to
tip pots off the stove accidentally.

Towels, pot holders, curtains and paper towels should all be well away from flames and
heating elements. Be particularly careful of their proximity to toaster ovens or other small
cooking appliances.

If a grease fire breaks out while you are cooking cover the pan with a lid to smother the
fire. Be careful using glass lids however as they can shatter from the extreme heat and
direct flame impingement. You should also keep an all purpose Class ABC dry chemical
fire extinguisher accessible in the kitchen. The dry chemical extinguisher is safe to use on
grease fires. In the absence of an all purpose extinguisher, baking soda in large quantities
can be used. NEVER put water on a grease fire and NEVER try to carry the burning pot
outside! Leave the building and dial 911 to report the fire. Do not jeopardize your safety.

Cooking surfaces should be cleaned regularly to prevent grease build up. This includes
vents as well. Grease is easily ignitable and cannot be extinguished with water.

Oil should be heated gradually over low temperatures and in a covered pan to avoid
grease spattering. Use extreme caution when deep frying foods.
Your range or oven should not be used to heat your home. Double check the kitchen to
make sure all stoves, ovens, coffee makers, toasters and other appliances are safely turned
off and cool before you go to bed or leave the house.

Do not use barbecue grills inside or next to the house, especially in the vicinity of vinyl
siding. Make sure propane tanks are securely fastened to the grill unit and are in good
condition (no excessive rust, valves and stem are intact). Be careful when using lighter
fluid with charcoal grills.

Turkey fryers are another source of cooking fires. Like grills, turkey fires should only be
used outdoors a safe distance away from other structures and combustible materials.
These units can easily tip over spilling hot oil onto the open flame and causing a sizeable
flash fire. Make sure the fryer is on a stable surface prior to cooking and never leave it
unattended. Do not overfill the fryer with oil, or place frozen foods in heated oil, as both
of these can cause the oil to spillover and ignite on the open flame. Some marinades have
high water content and can cause the oil to spillover. As turkey fryers do not have
thermostatic controls, these units can overheat to the point of combustion. Please be
careful of burn injuries with fryers as the handles and sides of the pot become extremely
hot and pose severe burn hazards. Keep children and pets well away from the fryer, even
hours after its use as the oil is still dangerously hot. When using a turkey fryer keep an all
purpose class ABC fire extinguisher nearby and never use water to extinguish a fire in the
unit.

By following these basic steps many cooking fires can be prevented and the ensuing
damage and injuries avoided.

Fire extinguisher training is available through the Fire Marshal Office. We recommend
all residents be familiar with the operation of a fire extinguisher.

The Fire Marshal Office is always available free of charge to assist you with placement
of smoke detectors or to provide a fire hazard analysis of your home. We can also act
upon reports of hazardous conditions within homes, so please feel free to contact us if
you have concerns for your well-being due to conditions beyond your control.

As always email or call us with any suggestions for topics or questions you may have. If
you have a question, chances are your friend or neighbor may be wondering the same
thing too! In addition, we have a great website loaded with safety tips and information,
upcoming events, and tons of activities for children. Together we can work to prevent
fires and keep everyone safe.

New Milford Fire Marshal Office
10 Main St, New Milford, CT 06776
(2nd floor of Town Hall)
Office: (860) 355-6099
Email: firemarshal@newmilford.org
Website: www.newmilford.org – click on Departments and select Fire Marshal
                     “Committed to Fire Prevention”
- Karen Alward, Fire Marshal

				
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