Eastbourne’s firefighters are concerned with a recent increase in accidental fires starting at home in the kitchen with many related to cooking where people are not paying attention or they leave things unattended.
Eastbourne Borough Commander, Dave Sheppard, said: “In the last 12 months we have seen a significant increase in fires starting accidentally in the home. A particular worry is around fires starting whilst people are cooking in the kitchen and becoming distracted, particularly pensioners living alone and parents with young families.”
There are some very simple guidelines that people can follow which are routinely communicated to householders by Eastbourne’s Community Safety Team, which comprises of Chris Guy, Kate Graham and Jo Erridge.
Chris Guy said: “There are several things you can do to prevent fires in the kitchen. Make sure you don’t get distracted when you are cooking and follow the advice outlined below:”
- Take pans off the heat or turn the heat down if you're called away from the cooker, e.g. by a phone call
- Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing as it can catch fire easily
- Don't cook if you have been drinking alcohol or taken prescription drugs - you may get drowsy or lose concentration
- Turn saucepans so the handles don't stick out over the edge of the hob or over another ring
- Double check that the cooker is off when you have finished cooking
- Make sure tea-towels aren’t hanging over the cooker and don't put oven gloves on top of a hot cooker
- Keep the oven, hob and grill clean. Built-up fat and bits of food can start a fire
- If you are likely to be distracted or forgetful use a kitchen timer to remind you when your food will be ready
Kate Graham added: “‘Also make sure that you have a working smoke alarm fitted in your home as they really do save lives. A working smoke alarm is essential in giving you a warning that there is a problem but it is no use if it isn’t working, so check it regularly and replace the battery every year.”
Should the worst case scenario happen and a fire occurs in your home don’t panic, simply follow the guidance below:
- Don't move the pan because it will be very hot
- Turn off the heat if it's safe to do so - don’t lean over the pan to reach the controls
- Don’t use a fire extinguisher on a pan of oil because the force of the extinguisher can spread the fire
- Never use water on chip pan fires as this will cause a fireball
- Get out, stay out and call 999
Dave Sheppard continued: “In the event of a fire, get everyone out of the house, stay out and call 999, our operational crews will respond immediately to help you. Our mobilising centre will even give you advice over the phone to make sure that everyone is safe.”
The specialist community safety team in Eastbourne, based at the community fire station in Whitley Road, offers free Home Safety Visits and advice on fire safety in the home.
Simply call Freephone 0800 177 7069 to see if you are eligible for free personalised home safety advice, smoke alarm checks and expert help with fitting if you need more, or new, smoke alarms.