Although cooking can be an enjoyable and rewarding task, it has potential dangers in the mix.
The National Fire Protection Association reported last year had the lowest total of cooking-related fires in 19 years.
While the figures are lower, people dying or injured in reported cooking fires are estimated at almost 4,700 annually, which is still a high amount.
The association also reported that an estimated 640,000 or more injuries and illnesses a year (including headaches and dizziness) are the result of cooking fires that are not reported to fire departments.
According to Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Payne, Ramstein senior fire inspector, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires and associated losses. Other human errors, such as lack of maintenance (allowing grease to build up on stoves), failing to turn off the equipment and placing combustibles too close to heat sources, also play roles in these fires.
To make kitchens safe, Ramstein Fire Inspector Staff Sgt. Michael Liston recommends people to supervise cooking closely and clean cooking equipment so food items, like grease, won’t start fires. Make sure combustibles, like potholders and rags, are kept away from cooking surfaces, and avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that might easily catch on fire. Keep pot handles turned inward to avoid spills and possible scalds, and keep children and pets away from cooking areas.
If there’s a stovetop grease fire, don’t use a fire extinguisher, which can splatter the grease and spread the fire. Instead, smother the fire by carefully sliding a lid over the top of the pan. Turn off the burner and wait until the pan completely cools before lifting it. (If you lift the lid too soon, oxygen may re-ignite the fire.). If a fire starts in your microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the appliance.
People shouldn’t cook if they are tired, have been drinking alcohol, or taking medication that can make them drowsy.
As part of Fire Smart Month, the fire prevention office will conduct the following fire safety briefings within the KMC:
• 11 a.m., Tuesday at the Galaxy Theater at Vogelweh
• 11 a.m., Wednesday at the Nightingale Theater at Ramstein
• 11 a.m., Thursday at the Tiger Theater at Sembach Annex
• 11 a.m., Feb. 27 at the Nightingale Theater at Ramstein
For more information, call the 435th CES fire protection flight at 480-5511.