The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year-one every eight minutes -- and most are home fires. Many of those fires start in the kitchen and can easily be prevented. Last year, the Red Cross of Tampa Bay responded to over 400 home fires.
“Cooking is the leading cause of home fires across the country. Unfortunately, we see far too many home fires in our own community that start in the kitchen,” said Linda Carbone, CEO of the Central Florida Region. “The good news is that kitchen fires can be prevented by following some simple, safety tips.”
A recent Red Cross survey revealed that nearly one in five Americans (16 percent) admit to leaving food cooking unattended on the stove -- a major cause of kitchen fires. Tips to avoid cooking fires include:
• Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
• Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes.
• Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.
• Don’t leave food on the stove unattended.
• Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.
IF A COOKING FIRE OCCURS If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put out the fire. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water – it will fuel the fire.
If something catches fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread to the walls. If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can. Don’t use it again until a repairman checks it.
If the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when outside. Once outside, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.
Download the Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns.
NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. As part of the campaign the Red Cross is joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires. The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.
You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit redcross.org/homefires.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.