American Red Cross reminds Missouri residents that cooking is the leading cause of home fires

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During Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14), the American Red Cross of Central and Northern Missouri reminds everyone that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and issues safety steps to follow to help avoid one of these blazes.

“The top reason for cooking fires is someone leaving the stove unattended while cooking,” said Rebecca Gordon, Executive Director, of the Red Cross of Central and Northern Missouri. “Cooking brings family and friends together, but this normal, everyday activity can also lead to disaster. In fact, cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. To help keep your loved ones safe, it’s important to stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking.”

Follow these 10 steps to help stay safe while cooking:

  1. If you are frying, grilling, or broiling food, never leave it unattended — stay in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  2. Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  3. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting, or broiling food, check it regularly.
  4. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  5. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area. Make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  6. Keep anything that can catch fire — potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains — away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year if your smoke alarm requires it.

 Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, working with community partners, has saved at least 1,928 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans, and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit the American Red Cross website.