Council: Preventing cooking fires focus of 2013 Fire Prevention Week

October 23, 2013
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

The largest single cause of home fires is cooking the City Council learned when Santa Paula Fire Chief Rick Araiza was presented with a proclamation by Vice Mayor Rick Cook marking National Fire Prevention Week (October 7-12.)

Cook noted such cooking fires were responsible for more than 2,500 deaths in 2011, and “Two out of every five home fires start in the kitchen,” with a greater risk of non-fatal injuries when people try to extinguish the fires on their own.

“Santa Paula residents should stay in the kitchen when frying food on stovetops,” and make sure to establish a 3-foot wide safety zone to keep children away from cooking areas as well as areas where hot food or drink might be carried.

Every household should also have a fire escape plan that Cook said has been documented as an effective way of reducing the number of house fire fatalities.

“Our Santa Paula first responders are dedicated to,” lowering the number of fires that occur in the city and Cook said the Santa Paula Fire Department wants to remind all citizens “To stay alert,” of fire dangers and take proactive measures to avoid fires, especially in the kitchen.

Fire Chief Rick Araiza noted that with the recent fierce Santa Ana winds the city - indeed Ventura County - was “lucky not to have any major events,” although the SPFD offered mutual aide to a massive fire in Oxnard that left more than 80 people without a home.

Araiza noted that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and he showed the pink T-shirts purchased by the Santa Paula Firefighters Association.

With the SPFD logo on the front and the department name spelled out on the back Araiza said the shirts are now being worn by firefighters to show their support for the fight against breast cancer.

When it comes to kitchen safety Araiza said people that are sleepy or have consumed alcohol should not use the stove or stovetop; when using the stovetop to fry, grill or boil food turn off the source of cooking power if you leave even for a short time.

When foods are simmering or baking in the oven set a timer to remind yourself that something is cooking; keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains - even loose sleeves! - away from the stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire Araiza said to leave immediately, closing the door behind you and call 9-1-1 after you leave. 

If you try to fight the fire be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path of escape; keep a lid handy to cover small grease fires to smother them. If food in the oven catches fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

And remember: always turn the handle of a pot or pan being used on the stovetop away from the edge of the unit to avoid a child grabbing it, someone bumping into it or clothing catching on it. 

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