COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Firefighters go out on 50,000 calls per year between 21 fire stations in Colorado Springs. The leading cause of fires in the city and around the U.S. is unattended cooking fires.
The theme of this year's Fire Prevention Week is Prevent Kitchen Fires.
In the spirit of fire prevention week, Colorado Springs Fire Department shared easy steps to keep kitchens away from the flames.
Firefighter John Roy demonstrated the steps to take if there is a grease fire in a pan. He said it's important to not throw water on the fire. This will excite the fire and cause it to grow. Also, he said it's important to not try to move the pan to a sink or off the stove. People can accidentally spill grease on themselves if they try to move the pan.
Instead, Roy said keep a lid to the pan on hand while you cook. Smother the fire by placing the lid on the pan. Turn off the heat and keep the lid on the pan for a while. If you lift it too early, the fire may not be out.
Roy said there is an even better option to smother a grease fire than a lid. Roy picked up a cookie sheet and slid it over the top of the pan. He said that way you avoid placing your hand over the flames.
The biggest culprit in kitchen fires is forgetfulness. There are several steps you can take to remind yourself that you have food in the kitchen.
First, Roy said you can set a timer on your microwave or on a phone as a reminder. If you don't have a timer, he suggested taking a oven mitt and carrying it around or placing it in your pocket to serve as a visual reminder.
Also, get in the habit of alerting other people in your home that you are cooking. A spouse, a roommate or even your children can remind you to check in on your meal if you have to step out of the kitchen.
There are a few other things to keep in mind while cooking. Do not let mail, school work or papers pile up near the stove. Also, do not wear sweatshirts or shirts with strings or other clothes with baggy sleeves because it's easy for those to catch fire.
Jane Zook with Colorado Springs Fire Department stressed how easy it is to avoid kitchen fires and the importance of taking necessary steps to keep your home safe.
Colorado Springs Fire Department will give presentations to at-risk groups like elderly and people living in apartments throughout October on kitchen fire prevention.