Fire & Rescue NSW are warning the community to ‘keep looking when cooking’ to avoid kitchen fire catastrophes.
FRNSW Community Safety and Research Chief Superintendent Jeremy Fewtrell said kitchen fires accounted for 45 per cent of all residential fires and 34 per cent of injuries in NSW.
“Flames or heat sources being left unattended are the most common cause contributing to kitchen fires,” he said.
“It can take just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but only seconds to prevent one.
“To avoid kitchen fire catastrophes, we urge people to ‘keep looking when cooking’. It’s a simple way to avoid losing your home or even worse, your loved ones or your own life.”
In the Port Macquarie-Hastings area FRNSW recorded 28 residential fires in 2016 with a flame or heat source left unattended as contributing cause.
In trying to fight those fires, people are often burned which can result in a lifetime of consequences on health and well-being, often needing intensive and ongoing medical intervention and long-term rehabilitation. Burns are also associated with high levels of distress, anxiety and depression.
The Keep Looking When Cooking campaign seeks to avoid burn injuries from occurring by maintaining a watch on cooking and preventing an incident from occurring in the first place.
FRNSW recommends the following simple safety checklist for home cooks:
- Never leave cooking unattended. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove.
- It takes just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but only seconds to prevent one.
- Don’t put anything metallic in the microwave.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Store flammable items (aerosols, cleaning agents and cooking oil etc) away from heat.
- Don’t cook under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Keep loose clothing, fabrics, tea towels and curtains away from the stove.
- Turn pot handles inwards to avoid being knocked or grabbed by children.
- Keep your oven and rangehood clean. Excess grease and fat can ignite in a fire.
- Don’t use LPG cylinders for cooking or heating indoors.
- Never overload power points or power boards in the kitchen.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.
If your pan catches fire, remember:
- Never use water to put out a fat or oil fire
- Turn off the stove and use the lid to cover the flame
- Get out, stay out and call Triple Zero ‘000’.
To help share this important message, the community is encouraged to post their own recipes on social media, using the hashtag #KeepLookingWhenCooking. FRNSW will share some of the recipes through its own social media channels.
Fewtrell said each winter, FRNSW also sees a 10 per cent jump in the number of fires starting in bedrooms or lounge rooms.
“We want to remind people to be careful when using heaters and remember to keep everything in the house ‘a metre from the heater’,” he said.
There are a number of other simple steps you can take to prepare your home against the risk of fire this winter:
- Turn off heaters and electric blankets before leaving home or getting into bed
- Clean lint filters in the clothes dryer before or after each use
- Don’t overload powerboards
- Keep candles away from curtains and put them out before leaving the room
- Don’t use LPG cylinders for cooking or heating indoors as they can leak and the gas is both toxic and highly explosive
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarm
If you remember these simple rules, you’ll be on your way to having a safe, fire‑free winter.
Remember, if a fire does break out, don’t fight the fire - get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000).
For more information, visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au