The city of Greenville has experienced a fire fatality less than one month into the new year. According to Will Broscious, Greenville City Fire Department’s community risk reduction and education coordinator, the man who lost his life in a residential fire last night was cooking when the fire started and his home did not have working smoke alarms.
“In the wake of this terrible tragedy, we certainly want to remind residents of the importance of having working smoke alarms, but we also want to share some startling statistics regarding kitchen fires,” said Broscious.
Based on 2010-2014 data from the National Fire Protection Association, cooking equipment was the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, causing 46% of home fires that resulted in 19% of the home fire deaths and 44% of the injuries. Additionally:
- Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but clothing ignitions led to 18% of the home cooking equipment fire deaths.
- Ranges or cooktops accounted for the majority (62%) of home cooking fire incidents.
- Unattended equipment was a factor in one-third (33%) of reported home cooking fires and half (49%) of the associated deaths.
- Frying dominates the cooking fire problem.
“What’s so compelling about these statistics is the fact that cooking is something we do every day, so rather than being a seasonal risk, the danger is constant,” said Broscious. “As a result, we are urging residents to follow these simple tips to help keep them and their families safe.”
- Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Regularly check on food that’s simmering, baking or roasting, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
- Keep things that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels and curtains away from the cooking area.
- If you have a small (grease) cooking fire on the stovetop and decide to fight the fire: Smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- Be alert when cooking. If you're sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
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Community Risk Reduction & Education Coordinator