Unattended cooking could result in your next meal being your last

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- In 2010, an estimated 156,400 home fires reported to U.S. fire departments involved cooking and claimed over 410 lives. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of fires in the kitchen. About 60% of cooking fires start by food ignition or other cooking materials catching on fire. Cooking with oil and using deep fryers hold the highest potential for a cooking fire. Thanksgiving is the PEAK day for home cooking fires due to volume of cooking appliances used and uninformed citizens who don't exercise safe cooking methods.

Here are some safety tips to prevent a potential cooking fire in your home. If you are tired or have been consuming alcohol, you should not be cooking. Always remain in the kitchen if you are cooking. However, if you must leave even if for just a moment, always turn off the cooking appliance prior to doing so. Remove anything that can catch fire away from the stove to include: paper towels, curtains, oven mitts etc. The most important thing is to just pay attention to what you are doing and keep your mind away from distractions such as watching television, talking on the phone or checking your Facebook. Having a fire extinguisher close is ideal but make sure you know how to properly use it.

If you experience a cooking fire, you should know what to do. Here are some important things to remember every time you decide to cook. In the event your delicious meal catches a blaze, you should immediately leave the area, closing the door (if applicable) behind you to prevent fire spread. Make sure you call 9-1-1 or 0176-53-1911 from your cell phone after you and everyone in the house has safely left the home. Give detailed information about what happened to emergency responders (address, name, what caught fire, if the fire is out or still burning etc.). If you can safely extinguish the fire, make sure everyone is still exiting the home and always have a clear exit route as fires can be unpredictable. Lastly, always keep a lid to cover a pot or pan in the event its contents catch on fire, turn off the stove top and leave lid on until completely cooled. If there is still a danger, exit the home and call 9-1-1.

Unattended cooking can potentially lead to a devastating result. Cooking is a common everyday thing we do but we must understand how important it is to cook safely. Most people think it can't happen to them until it's too late, but being educated can greatly reduce the odds of it happening. Getting the whole family involved is ideal and can save their lives in the event of an emergency.

Unattended cooking, while easily preventable, is still a leading cause of fires in homes. This is why it is so important to adopt safe cooking practices and be smart while cooking in the kitchen.