National Fire Prevention Week Focuses on Cooking Safety During Pandemic

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s National Fire Prevention Week and this year’s theme is “serving up fire safety in the kitchen.” According to the National Fire Prevention Association, cooking is the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries.

“With this year and cooking fires, I think it’s been a great topic, especially when you think about what COVID-19 has done across the country. People are not going to out to eat as much, they are cooking more at home. The increase for the fires is really going up because of that,” West Des Moines Fire Marshall Mike Whitsell said.

When it comes to cooking, first of all, you should never leave a burner on unattended. Whitsell said fires double in size on average every 60 seconds and a grease fire has plenty of fuel and oxygen to grow quickly.

A cooking fire can sometimes be extinguished if you are present when it starts. Whitsell said it’s important to always have a lid for the pot or pan you’re cooking with nearby. That way, if a grease fire does break out you can put the lid on and smother the fire. Secondly, he suggests trying to remove the pot or pan from the heat source by simply sliding it to another burner that’s off.

“You may only have seconds to react. That fire my flash so quickly you don’t have time to put the lid on it, you can’t slide it off of the hot burner. That comes the point where you need to get out of the house and call 911,” Whitsell said.

Whitsell has steps not to do. He says don’t ever put water on a cooking fire, don’t try to move the pot or pan with the fire to the sink, and also don’t try to throw flour on it to try and smother because the right mixture could cause an explosion.

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