Umesh Lal, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, says COVID-19 has kept more people at home, increasing the potential for kitchen fires. The fire department recommends several safety precautions. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Try to serve up fire safety in the kitchen during Fire Prevention Week

Cooking mishaps the leading cause of burns and structure fires

With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, families are spending more time at home, which means people are spending more of that time at home in the kitchen and increasing the potential for accidental burns and fires.

With a greater potential for kitchen mishaps, Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s theme for Fire Prevention Week 2020, Oct. 4-10, is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.

Most burns and structure fires happen in the kitchen where there are multiple heat sources and plenty of potential for accidents.

“Seventy per cent of structure fires are caused in the kitchen and the No. 1 cause of kitchen fires is distracted or unattended cooking,” said Umesh Lal, fire prevention officer with Nanaimo Fire Rescue. “That could mean a lot of things … you put something on and then you leave the room and you forget about it, whether it be watching TV, dealing with family issues or you could come home and you’ve got the munchies for the 2 a.m. fries and, you know, you shouldn’t really be cooking. It could be any of those things.”

Sometimes people don’t leave the kitchen, but get distracted by a phone conversation, a game on their computer or cell phone and temporarily forget about what’s happening on the stove.

Sometimes fires break out by mistakenly entering the wrong time on a microwave oven, such as setting a bag of popcorn to cook for 23 minutes instead of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

When fires happen, people often don’t know what to do to bring them under control.

For a fire in a microwave oven, Lal advises simply turning the unit off and not opening its door to prevent oxygen getting to the burning contents. With a stove, if the controls can be reached, turn off the elements to remove the heat source.

Be prepared for fire before cooking starts. A pan lid can be used to simply cover and smother a fire. Oven mitts protect against burns from hot pans and utensils.

“You should always have a lid and oven mitts, so you can smother something out that’s on fire,” Lal said. “You never throw water on grease fires, of course. You never move the pan because that’s a potential cause for injuries.”

It’s good to be prepared with basic equipment to control a fire, such as a fire extinguisher, oven mitts and a handy pan lid, but Lal also advises creating a minimum one-metre safe zone around the cooking area that can be kept free of small children, pets and tripping hazards. It’s not uncommon to be working at a stove to find the family dog underfoot, waiting for a treat.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo firefighters’ burn fund video wins people’s choice award

Lal said people don’t think fires can happen to them, “But all it takes is once and, unfortunately with burns, it’s a life-changing moment.”

If someone suffers a severe burn, place the affected area under cold running water immediately, have someone call 911, and keep the burned area under cold running water until help arrives. Do not apply bandages, ointments or ice.

The arrival of fall also means it’s a good time to test smoke alarms in homes and change their batteries, especially as outdoor temperatures become colder and people begin turning on their home heating systems and lighting wood stoves.

Lal recommends having heating systems serviced and chimneys cleaned before use.

According to the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, 851 fires in B.C. last year started from cooking, accounting for close to one-third of all structure fires, as reported to the Office of the Fire Commissioner. As a result of these fires, 62 people were injured and $39 million worth of damage was caused.

“Be present and never leave cooking unattended. Cooking fires are entirely preventable if we all demonstrate more caution and take the simple steps to protect our families and homes,” says Gord Ditchburn, president of the burn fund, in a press release.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer receives provincial award



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

fire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson announces new infrastructure spending on the Lower Mainland on Monday, flanked by Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows candidate Cheryl Ashlie and Maple Ridge-Mission candidate Chelsa Meadus. (Neil Corbett/Black Press)
Wilkinson says plan to rebuild B.C. will work for Vancouver Island

B.C. Liberal leader talks to the News Bulletin about homelessness, forestry, infrastructure

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants

Police say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

Plastic checkout bags could be banned in Nanaimo by next summer if a city bylaw receives provincial approval. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo moves closer to banning plastic and other single-use checkout bags

Nanaimo city council votes to forward checkout bag regulation bylaw to province for approval

Rotary Centennial Garden at Maffeo Sutton Park. (Sean Fenzl photo)
New Rotary garden officially open at Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park

Rotary Centennial Garden design inspired by the shoreline

Jenna Forster moderated the Virtual All Candidates Forum between Duck Paterson (top left); Chris Istace (top right); and Doug Routley (Youtube/Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce)
Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates state their case in virtual debate

Duck Paterson, Chris Istace, and Doug Routley are on the ballot for October 24

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Candidates in the Nanaimo riding include Kathleen Jones, B.C. Liberal Party, top left; Sheila Malcolmson, NDP; Lia Versaevel, Green Party. (Photos submitted/News Bulletin photo/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding include Chris Istace, B.C. Green Party, top left; Duck Paterson, B.C. Liberals; and Doug Routley, NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read