Protect your home from holiday fires

By Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The holidays mean a lot of cooking. Now, comes word that as many as six people will die in kitchen fires during the holiday season - starting with Thanksgiving.

The state's fire marshal, Ed Paulk, explains the causes. "Most people begin cooking a meal and during the course of preparing that meal they leave the kitchen. They leave the cooking on the stove unattended."

And, a home can end up in flames even when brief distractions pull folks away like the doorbell, a baby crying or the telephone. "That fire then extends to the cabinetry around the kitchen and in most people's kitchens what do we have above here (the stove)? We have our cooking oil," says Paulk.

Paulk recommends if you have to leave the kitchen, if only for a few minutes, turn the flames off and remove the skillet or pan. "Stop the cooking process if you're not in that kitchen. Turn the eye off and remove the skillet. That's a double check. Sometimes we're in a hurry. We turn something we think down and in fact you turn it on high."

And, there's a big no - no on those cold nights. He says do not try to heat your home by opening the oven door. "What happens is when we open the door - the oven is preset to 450-degrees. It can never reach that. So, it's trying harder and harder and harder and getting hotter and hotter and hotter. So the gas is coming out. The heat's coming out (and) sets combustibles on fire in the kitchen."

Paulk also says alcohol can play a part in causing fires too. When people drink too much, they get hungry and put food on the stove and fall asleep and the next thing they know is their home is on fire.

The state fire marshal adds, if a fire starts in your kitchen and you don't have a fire extinguisher smother it. Put a lid on the skillet and if that doesn't work call 9-1-1.

By the way, if you have a fire extinguisher keep it near the kitchen and not right next to the stove. That's so if stove goes up in flames, you can get to the extinguisher!