WEST PALM BEACH — Palm Beach County Fire Rescue has seen a 17% rise in kitchen fires when comparing March through September 2020 with March to September 2019. Palm Beach County first declared the COVID-19 State of Emergency on March 13. Since then, more people have been cooking at home, correlating with the increase in kitchen fires in Palm Beach County. National Fire Prevention Week began Sunday, Oct. 4. So, it’s a good time to remind everyone about the dangers of a kitchen fire, how to prevent them and what to do if one starts in your kitchen.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week (FPW). This year’s FPW theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen. Cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States, mostly unattended cooking. Firefighters warn residents, if you are cooking, stay in the kitchen and stay focused.
If a fire sparks while cooking: Never pour water on a grease fire! The fire will react violently and get bigger and hotter. This can also spread the fire. Always keep a lid nearby, or cookie sheet, to quickly suffocate a pan or pot fire. Then turn the power knob off. Oven fires, toaster oven fires or microwave fires … keep the door closed to suffocate the fire. Then turn the power knob off. Get everyone outside, closing doors on the way out to stop smoke from spreading, and CALL 911 so firefighters can check inside for safety. Remember, fire extinguishers are for small-contained fires and the user should be trained to operate it. If used improperly, the fire extinguisher can actually spread the fire.
Overall safety: Always wear oven mitts and use potholders to prevent burns. Keep handles turned away from walking areas and other hot burners. Keep children and pets out of the kitchen and at least 3 feet away from everything hot. Avoid tablecloths so young children do not pull hot food and dishes onto themselves.
The most important cooking tip is to stay in the kitchen and stay focused! Your Safety. Our priority.