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Watch what you heat! Unattended cooking continues to pose major fire hazard

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- In the United States, fires caused by unattended cooking remain a leading cause of home fires and fire related injuries.

Although these fires have been declining nationally, the rate here on Seymour Johnson has remained the same for the past three years.
Why do these fires happen?

Frequently it's because people leave their stoves unattended while cooking because of the phone, children or other distractions.

Often fires start within the first 15 minutes of cooking, showing that there is no safe period of time to leave cooking unattended.

Each year hundreds of fires are not reported to authorities, in most cases, these fires were confined to the cooking materials that caught fire.

In addition, they are responsible for an estimated 642,000 first- and second-degree burn injuries each year.

These fires are also dangerous because people attempt to put them out the wrong way.

What may first come to mind is using a fire extinguisher or putting water on a grease fire, these actions can make matters worse.

They cause splattering and contribute to spreading the fire rather than extinguish it. Fires of this nature should be smothered by covering a pan with a lid, or by reducing the heat.

Reduce the risk of kitchen fires

Don't leave the stove unattended when cooking

Allow time to prepare meals to minimize mistakes

If you have to leave the kitchen, turn the stove off and allow it to cool.

Keep items, such as rags, pot holders, curtains and bags away from cooking surfaces.

Don't cook if you are drowsy or feeling the effects of alcohol, medication or other drugs.

Roll up sleeves and don't wear loose-fitting clothing. If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll

Clean stoves regularly to remove grease or cooking materials that can ignite.

Create a three foot "kid-free zone" around the stove when cooking.

For more information or to schedule a home fire safety inspection, call the fire prevention office at 722-3836/3838.
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