By Christa Keele
Beware the kitchen.
More fires start in the kitchen than any other place in the home. Because of this, “Preventing Cooking Fires: Watch What You Heat,” is the theme of National Fire Prevention Week that runs October 8-14, 2006 and is aimed at educating individuals on safe cooking practices.
Fire Prevention Week was created to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed more than 250 people and left over 100,000 homeless.
Because of this and other fire related tragedies, President Woodrow Wilson issued the National Fire Prevention Day proclamation in 1920, and since 1922 Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls according to the National Fire Protection Association.
This commemoration is the longest running public health and safety observance on record according to the National Archives and Records Administration”s Library Information Center.
BYU recognizes Fire Prevention Week along with the rest of the nation.
Dennis Moss, BYU”s fire marshal, said the risk management and safety department has spent the month promoting cooking safety and will continue to do so by training employees on campus regarding how to properly prevent cooking fires.
The number one cause of cooking fires is unattended cooking, Moss said.
“We put things on the stove then get distracted,” Moss said. “Somebody rings the doorbell and we go to talk to them and forget we are cooking. We recommend if people are cooking and need to do something such as answer the door that they take a spatula or potholder in their hand to remind themselves they have left something cooking.”
Students appreciate this practical fire safety advice.
“I think taking something to the door with you to remind you you”re cooking is actually a really good idea,” Susan Reese, a junior from Salt Lake City majoring in nutrition said. “Although usually when I”m cooking it”s because I”m hungry so I don”t generally forget I”ve left something on the stove; my stomach reminds me.”
When doing high temperature cooking such as frying, broiling or grilling people should turn off the stove if they need to leave for any amount of time, Moss said.
When doing low temperature cooking, people should to stay home, frequently check the cooking and use a timer, he said.
Here are some additional suggestions to keep kitchens fire free:
* Keep the stove-top clean and clear
* Carefully monitor hot oil; if oil ignites don”t extinguish with water-turn the burner off and smother with a pan lid
* Turn handles of pots and pans inward
* Try not to reach over the stove
* Dress appropriately for cooking
* Keep appliance cords as short as possible
* Always have hot pads and lids ready