A measure of caution can help prevent kitchen fires

In a season when people spend extra time in the kitchen, it’s extra important to cook safely and know what to do in the event of a fire.

For starters, always have a working smoke detector in your home, said Kevin Bartal, Virginia Farm Bureau safety coordinator and a district chief with the Henrico County Division of Fire. “This will provide early warning should a fire occur.”

Keep all work and oven surfaces clear of grease and clutter, and never leave cooking foods unattended.

If a stove fire occurs, evacuate everyone, and call 911 if you do not feel comfortable trying to extinguish the flames yourself, Bartal said. A lid can be used to smother flames that are inside a pan, but doing that can put your hands too close to the flames.

“It is recommended to use an oversized cookie sheet to smother the flames, because it keeps your hand away from the edge of the pan,” Bartal said.

Turn off the heat to the pan, and keep it covered. Do not move the pan; call the fire department and allow it to cool.

Never try to move a flaming pan of grease or use water on a grease fire. Baking soda can be used to extinguish a grease fire; however, doing that also puts your hand close to the flames. Purchase an ABC-type fire extinguisher, and place it next to an exit door so it can be retrieved easily. Keeping it near an exit allows you to evacuate easily if a fire gets too big.

“Fire extinguishers are easy to use and can be used from a distance of more than 10 feet,” Bartal said.

Remember to “PASS” when operating a fire extinguisher: Pull the pin; Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire from 10 to 15 feet away; Squeeze the handles together to activate the extinguisher; and Sweep the base of the fire until the flames are extinguished.

If an oven fire occurs, leave the oven door shut to help contain the flames, turn off the oven, evacuate the house and call 911.

“Always call the fire department if you had a fire, even if you put it out yourself, in order to check for hidden fire,” Bartal said.

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