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Cooking Accidents Lead to Katy House Fires


December 5, 2020

By Natalie Cook Clark

Currently, cooking-related fires are the leading cause of fires in Katy homes. See how some simple tips can keep your family and home safe this holiday season.

Cooking-Related Fires Increase During Pandemic

Local authorities claim that cooking-related fires are the leading cause of house fires in Katy.

“Some of that may be due to many families cooking meals instead of going to restaurants due to the current pandemic,” says Jason Tharp, division chief of Community Risk Reduction and Public Information Officer for Harris County No. 48.

“Be sure to always keep kids and pets a safe distance from the stove and hot foods to prevent burns or other serious injuries,” warns Tharp.

Cooking Fire Prevention Tips

  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children - up high in a locked cabinet.

  • Keep the kitchen and dining room floor clear to avoid tripping over kids, toys, purses, or bags while cooking or handling food.

  • Test smoke alarms and replace batteries when necessary.

  • Stand to the side when opening the oven door so the "flash heat" doesn't burn your face.

  • Always place the potholders (overhanded) on top of the rack you are pulling out so it doesn't hit the bottom coil and ignite.

  • If a potholder or towel ignites, get it to the sink and run water on it. Don't try to stomp it out.

  • When frying, always keep a large lid nearby in case the grease ignites. Cover the pot and shut the burner off and call for help.

  • Never pour water on a grease fire. It will spread the flames.

  • If something ignites in the oven, turn off the heat and call for help.

Cooking Can Also Cause Serious Injuries

The holidays often bring families together in the kitchen, especially this year when Katy families are more likely to stay at home due to the pandemic. Aside from the fire risks, kitchens and cooking can present lots of dangers that could lead to injuries too.

Elizabeth Stelevich, a retired junior high school home economics teacher, believes that it is never too early to start letting children help in the kitchen.

“It helps build their self-esteem and they feel proud when their family likes what they made,” says Stelevich, who moved to Katy in 2005. “Even folding towels or setting the table is a good start.”

Stelevich taught home economics for 35 years and understands both the joy and dangers that can be found in the kitchen.

“My 6th graders learned that spatulas scrape and turners turn - use the utensils for what they are supposed to be used for,” says Stelevich. “Don't leave utensils in the pots on the stove, use a spoon rest or saucer. They could melt or the handles could get really hot.”

Cooking Injury Prevention Tips

  • Never leave anything cooking unattended.

  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.

  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy, or coffee can cause serious burns.

  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.

  • Be sure electrical cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

  • Keep the dishwasher door, cabinets and drawers closed when not using.

“Some of the most common dangers come from leaving the burners on and walking away,” says Stelevich. “Set a timer so you are reminded that something is cooking and keep towels and potholders away from the burners when not being used.”

It’s also important to keep long hair tied back and clean as you go, cleaning up spills to avoid hazards in the kitchen.

Cooking-related activities frequented our list of fun, COVID-safe, family holiday events. Have fun this holiday season while keeping everyone safe.


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