By Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
It’s Fire Prevention Week in Canada and this year’s theme for on Alberta fire crew is to “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.”
Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 4 to Oct. 10 brings awareness to fire hazards while identifying serious cooking risk in the kitchen.
“A number of fires start as a result of overheated cooking oil in deep fryers or pans heated directly on kitchen stoves,” stated Todd Martens, Hinton’s fire chief and protective services manager.
Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, he added, and the Hinton Fire Department is focusing on preventing kitchen fires.
Five quick tips to prevent cooking fires include staying alert and never leaving cooking unattended, checking on food regularly and possibly with a timer, heating cooking oil slowly and keeping the temperature below 200 degrees Celsius, avoiding cooking when sleepy or drowsy from medication, alcohol, or cannabis, and keeping cooking areas clear of children, pets, and materials that can catch on fire, such as potholders, towels, drapes, and food packaging.
Martens stated that in case of a grease fire, don’t use water to put it out and keep the pot on the stove. Slide a fitted lid over it to smother the flames. When safe, turn off the heat and the exhaust fan to stop flames and gases from spreading.
For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from escaping.
For a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the appliance if it is safe to do so.
It’s important to have tested and maintained smoke alarms on every level of the house, including the basement and sleeping areas.
More than one-third of all fire fatalities are associated with having no smoke alarm, Martens added.
“If your smoke alarm sounds and you see or smell smoke or fire, you and your family need to get out of the home as quickly as possible and call 9-1-1,” he said.