By the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York
Fire Prevention Month is getting underway and Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4-10) is rapidly approaching. As people across New York state are socially isolating by staying home, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York is urging residents to focus on kitchen and cooking safety.
FASNY is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) -- the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years -- to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” The campaign works to educate everyone about simple, but important, actions they can take to keep themselves and others safe.
With schools operating on hybrid models, students being homeschooled and many parents working from home, New Yorkers are cooking more. This change in behavior is accelerated by the fact that restaurants are serving half their capacity or are only offering take-out or delivery services. While cooking and baking can be a positive activity for family connections, it can also lead to some lapses in home kitchen and cooking fire safety. Minor kitchen fires and burnt food incidents have led some local fire departments to see an increase in calls. Local volunteer fire departments are working hard to protect their neighbors and respond to calls for help during these challenging COVID-19 times.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S. Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
“Home kitchen fires usually increase around the fall and winter holidays when families host large dinners. Fortunately, many can be prevented,” FASNY President John Farrell said. “With more New Yorkers staying home during this pandemic, we need to be cautious and avoid unnecessary tragedy. Kitchen fires can be avoided by following some safety tips like never leaving the stove unattended, avoiding distractions and checking smoke detectors in the home are all in good working order.” Having a charged fire extinguisher in, or near, the kitchen is also a wise investment.
As social distancing continues throughout the state, FASNY would like all New Yorkers to follow a few basic cooking safety tips:
•Remain in the kitchen while cooking. Whether you’re frying, grilling, baking or broiling food, it’s always a good idea to supervise cooking directly. With many New Yorkers working from home, or attending school from home, it is very easy to become distracted while cooking.
•Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, keep anything that can catch fire away from it and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for “just a second.” A second is all it takes for a house fire to start.
•If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind yourself that you’re cooking.
•For homes with children, have the kids remain outside the kitchen area while food is being prepared. Pets should also be kept out of the kitchen while cooking. The safest chef is an undistracted chef!
•Avoid loose or dangling clothing when cooking, particularly around the stovetop burners on gas ranges.
•Make sure your smoke detectors are functioning by pressing the “test” button. If needed, replace the batteries. If they are not functioning after testing, install brand-new smoke alarms.
“The most important step anyone can take before making a meal is to “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” Farrell said. “A cooking fire can grow quickly. I have seen many homes damaged and people injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.”
Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York represents the interests of the approximately 85,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York.
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York represents the interests of 85,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.