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National Fire Prevention Week: Play it safe in the kitchen

While annual Fire Prevention Week ends today, it is important to remember that fires as a result of preparing meals or snacks can occur at any time.

Data collected from around the country that between 2014 to 2016 notes that cooking was by far the leading cause of all residential building fires, nearly 50 percent of all fires in home across the nation.

"The most important step you should take before making a meal is to 'Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!'" says Fire Chief Jim Kreher, President of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance. "A cooking fire can grow quickly. I have seen many homes damaged and people injured by fires that could easily have been prevented."

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen according to the National Fire Protection Association. Two-thirds of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. The most frequent cause of home fires is from cooking oil and grease.

"We know cooking fires can be prevented," said Lorraine Carli, VP of Outreach and Advocacy at the NFPA. "Staying in the kitchen, using a timer, and avoiding distractions such as electronics or TV are steps everyone can take to keep families safe in their homes."

The IFSA has safety tips that anyone cooking on a stove or open fire should observe to prevent accidental fires or flare-ups.

1. Never leave food to cook unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling. If you must leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.

2. Create and maintain a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

3. Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking.

4. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.

5. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.

6. Be alert when cooking. Avoid cooking or baking if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that can make you drowsy.

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