Keeping flames controlled in the kitchen

By Kelly McCarthy

October 8, 2013 Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 5:23 PM EST

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The leading cause of house fires come from cooking in the kitchen. This week is National Fire Prevention week and preventing kitchen fires is this year's message.

The National Fire Prevention Agency says more fires start in the kitchen than in any other part of the home. That's why all week, fire departments across the nation are focusing their efforts on how to keep the flames controlled in the kitchen.

"Unattended cooking is something," said Binghamton Fire Marshal Dan Eggleston, "They forgot about it, they just got out of the room for a minute, a lot of different excuses or reasons but a lot of them are preventable."

It doesn't matter how simple the recipe is, local Fire Marshals said they most often hear the fire started after people say they left the kitchen while cooking.

"People leave the stove, they fall asleep at night, the stove's still on," said Johnson City Fire Marshal Paul Hlebica, "And neighbors hear either the smoke detector or the smell the smoke so we have to respond and the majority of the time we have to wake the person up."

The National Fire Prevention Agency says two out of every five fires start in the kitchen, but the damage doesn't stop there.

"Well sometimes the small kitchen fire will spread through the whole house," Eggleston said, "People will lose their home, all their possessions. Small fires get big very quickly."

Don't be too quick to pour water on the flames, in some cooking situations that could make it worse.

"If it's a small fire contained to a pot like a grease fire," Eggleston said, "A grease fire you would have to smother, don't put water on it. You would put the lid on or put a cooking sheet on to smother it."

These tips will help prevent a kitchen from catching fire, but if flames do spread, don't hesitate to get help.

"If there's any question about whether you can fight the fire," Eggelston said, "Put the fire out, get out of the house. Get out of the house and call 9-1-1."

At the Johnson City Fire Department they have the help of these puppets to spread fire safety tips. They're the only fire department in Broome County that has a traveling puppet show to educate children on fire prevention and fire safety.

Firefighter David Smith said this week is one of the busiest weeks of the year for them. They do twice as many tours and shows as usual to bring more awareness to local families.

After the puppet show kids are encouraged to ask any questions they might have.

"I deal mostly with the kids so I'm going to talk on a kid level," Smith said, "So if your child is cooking or they want to cook that's great, but be with them. Show them the safe things to do, show them the right things to do, show them how to turn the handles on the pots, "what to do if" is always important."

Fire departments are focusing on teaching people how to keep cooking fires from starting in the first place, but it is important to understand if a fire starts in your home the safest thing you can do is to get out and call for help. Each year fire prevention week is held to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire. It happened on this day, October 8th, back in 1871 and left more than 250 people dead.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.