LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)—This week is National Burn Awareness Week, and firefighters want to teach people how to be safe.

The American Burn Association brought forth this campaign, and this year they are educating Americans on kitchen fires.

“Michigan continues to be a leading state in the country for home fire deaths,” said Michael McLeieer, Firefighter and President of the nonprofit, E.S.C.A.P.E Inc.

McLeieer is constantly working to reduce fire-related deaths across the country.

“This year we’ve had 22 fire fatalities in 18 building fires just in the first month of 2022,” McLeieer said.

He says safety while cooking is extra important because 47% of all home fires are started in the kitchen.

“If we’re baking in the oven it’s never a safe choice to run up to the store,” McLeieer said, “Or go shopping when we are cooking or baking.”

He says fires can happen from your stove, oven and even microwave.

“If a fire occurs in a microwave, turn off the microwave, unplug that device make sure again we evacuate everyone out,” McLeieer said.

The steps to follow if a fire occurs with the oven or stove is to put a lid on the pan or cookie sheet. He says to never carry a burning pan outside of the home because grease can splatter. This can cause the fire to spread. McLeieer says to evacuate everyone in the home outside, and have a designated meeting place.

“Once they flee outside call 9-1-1, firefighters will come and make sure that fire is out,” McLeieer said.

He says the best way to avoid a fire is by using kitchen timers, turn the heat off, and to stay in the kitchen when cooking, baking, and broiling.

He says if you need to leave the kitchen, turn off the burner and take a kitchen item with you. The item will serve as a reminder to get you back in the kitchen cooking.

Plan A:  Primary Prevention

  • The best time to cook is when you are wide awake and not drowsy from medications or alcohol.
  • Always wipe clean the stove, oven, and exhaust fan to prevent grease buildup.
  • Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep a pan lid and dry potholders or oven mitts near you EVERY time you cook.
  • Turn pot or pan handles toward the back of the stove.
  • When heating food in the microwave, use microwave-safe cookware that allows steam to escape.
  • Allow food to rest before removing from the microwave.
  • When frying, use a pan lid or splash guard to prevent grease splatter.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.  If you leave, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or broiling food, check it regularly.  Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you to check on your cooking.
  • After cooking, check the kitchen to make sure all burners and other appliances are turned off.
  • Never use the oven for storage.

Plan B:  Secondary Prevention

If your food does catch on fire…

  1. Cover the pan with its lid.  A cookie sheet works too.  Leave covered until the pan is cool.  NEVER move the pot or carry it outside – the pot is too hot to handle and the contents may splash, causing a severe burn.
  2. Turn the heat off.  With the lid on and the heat off, the fire should quickly put itself out.  NEVER use water to put out a kitchen fire.  Water will cause the oil to splatter and spread the fire, or scald you as it vaporizes.
  3. If the fire is inside the oven or microwave, keep the door shut and turn it off.  Keep closed until the oven is cool.
  4. If the fire gets out of control- get out, stay out and call 9-1-1.  Don’t return inside for any reason.

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