Unattended cooking can lead to unexpected results

14 Mar 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Grant

Evening time at a busy home can get hectic when trying to cook dinner with a house full of children. Across the United States, an average of 160,000 cooking related fires occur each year making cooking safety a big issue, and aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune it’s no different.

Camp Lejeune’s number one cause of house fires is directly related to unattended cooking, following the national trend, but the threat of house fires can be erased through following guidelines and using safe practices in the home.

The most common issue begins with an individual cooking something on the stovetop or in the oven, stated Timothy Johnson, assistant chief of fire prevention for the Camp Lejeune Fire Department. Due to another priority, they leave the area, and when they return the food being cooked is on fire.

“Turn off the gas or electric stove and remove whatever is being cooked from the heat source if you have to leave the stove or room,” said Johnson.

It is never safe to try to get rid of what is on fire, but instead remove yourself from whatever is burning and dial 911, added Johnson.

Children can also be at high risk around stove tops and cooking items due to accidental drops and the heat source.

“Make sure to create a kid-free zone. Extend one arm from the stove and use the opposite side of the body,” said Johnson. “Anything inside the radius, or three feet, is likely a danger to children.”

Fire extinguishers are recommended when the individual feels confident using it in the home, stated Johnson. It is best for individuals to remove themselves from the incident and avoid risking personal injury if the individual is unsure or does not feel comfortable using a fire extinguisher.

“Always dial 911 when there is a fire in the home,” said Johnson. “Fire can sometimes spread to where no one else can see even if the individual used the fire extinguisher or not. The fire department uses infrared cameras to find fires burning inside the walls.”

Working smoke detectors and a fire evacuation plan can prevent many fire related deaths.

“All of the children who go to school aboard the base practice fire drills once a month, but its different when the family is at home,” said Johnson. “It does not have to be a monthly occurrence, but every two or three months a family should use a pre-planned evacuation drill.”

The evacuation plan should include two different ways out of the home, and the assembly point should not be across the road due to unsafe conditions for children in an emergency, said Johnson.

For more information on fire prevention or to have a fire safety survey conducted at home, call 910-451-3320.