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Firefighters warn NSW residents to be careful when cooking

Published: 19th June 2013

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighters are warning NSW residents to be careful when cooking after new figures show crews have attended more than 200 kitchen fires over the past six weeks (since 1 May) – nearly five a day.

Over the past five days alone, firefighters have attended 98 residential kitchen fires.

The majority (more than 90 per cent) of kitchen fires over the past six weeks were the result of cooking catching alight – both on the stove and in the oven. More than 30 people were injured as a result of these fires, most suffering smoke inhalation.

On 28 May, a man suffered severe burns to his hands after a fire on a stove in a unit at Coogee, and on 11 May another man suffered burns to his hands and his feet after a kitchen fire in a Bellbird house.

On 7 June, a woman in her 30s suffered severe smoke inhalation after a stove fire at a unit at Waitara. The day before, an elderly man was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after a stove fire at a Kempsey unit.

And on Monday, an elderly woman suffered burns to both her arms after food caught alight in her oven at West Hoxton.

Fire Commissioner Greg Mullins said almost half of all house fires started in the kitchen.

"We know that most of these happen when cooking is left unattended because residents are juggling other tasks," Commissioner Mullins said.

"Don’t leave you and your family’s fire safety to chance this winter.

"If you’re stepping away from the kitchen to help with homework or to watch some television, turn off the stove and microwave and, at all times, keep a watchful eye on your cooking."

Commissioner Mullins urged residents to be fire-ready.

"Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and a practiced home escape plan, and keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket handy in the kitchen."

Here are some simple tips to follow to avoid a fire in your kitchen:

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Ensure that cooking appliances are turned off after use.
  • Tea towels, oven mitts and other flammable items should be kept well away from stoves and cook tops.
  • Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen and familiarise yourself with their operation.
  • Have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of the home and make sure it is working by testing them monthly and changing the batteries at least once a year. The best locations for smoke alarms are in hallways leading from bedrooms and in sleeping areas.
  • If a fire does occur, get out, call Triple Zero (000) and stay out.

Fire authorities, in partnership with FRNSW principal partner GIO, are encouraging householders to complete an online Home Fire Safety Audit as part of the winter fire safety campaign at: www.homefiresafetyaudit.com.au