Fire prevention in the kitchen is essential

Just in time for spooky season we offer the scary thought of a kitchen fire. Fire Prevention Week, October 8 to 14, is an important part of Fire Safety Awareness Month.

This year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) invites us to think about cooking safety, so this year’s theme is “Cooking Safety Starts with YOU!”  Residential fires affect hundreds of Canadians annually. In fact, on average, fires take the lives of 220 people every year, according to Statistics Canada. Each year in Winnipeg, the Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) responds to more than 100 fires that start in the kitchen. Being safe in the kitchen can help save you from a fire, which can cause serious injury or death and significant damage to your home.

To ensure your home and family are protected, make sure that every level of your home has a smoke alarm on it. Smoke alarms are the first line of defense. The NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms inside every bedroom and on every level of the home, including in the basement. Smoke alarms should be installed high on walls and ceilings and at least 3 metres away from appliances to help minimize false alarms.

Test and maintain the smoke alarms regularly. According to Statistics Canada, homes without a working smoke alarm accounted for nearly three out of four home fire deaths. Batteries should be changed every six months, unless the alarm is powered by a sealed, 10-year battery. The NFPA recommends always replacing the alarms ten years from the date they were manufactured.

Fire extinguishers should be easily accessible in key areas of the home, like the kitchen and garage. Should a fire start, the acronym P.A.S.S. is an easy way to remember how to use it: 1. Pull the pin. Hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism. 2. Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire. 3. Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly. 4. Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.

Remember to always have an escape plan and practise it. In the event of an emergency, every second counts, so having an escape plan that every member of the household can easily follow is key. Identify two ways out of every room, using either doors and/or windows. Choose a location a safe distance away from the home as a meeting point. If the home has a second storey, escape ladders should be stored near windows.

Avoid a cooking fire by following these safety tips:

1. Stay in the kitchen while you’re using the stove. If you leave, turn off the burners.

2. Keep a lid nearby. If a small fire starts in a pot, slide the lid over the pot and turn the element off.

3. If a small grease fire starts, never put water on it and do not try to move the pan. Instead, slide a lid over the pan, if possible, and turn off the burner. Do not move the pan until it is cool.

4. If you’re cooking or baking something in the oven, check on it often. Set a timer so you don’t forget.

5. If a fire starts inside your oven, keep the oven door closed and turn off the oven. Opening the oven door will add oxygen to the fire, causing it to get bigger and spread.

6. Keep oven mitts, towels, curtains, packaging, and anything else that can catch on fire away from the stove or oven.

7. Do not wear loose clothing when cooking. If you have long hair, tie it back.

8. Keep kids and pets away from the oven when it’s on. Have a kid-free and pet-free zone of one meter around the stove or near hot food.

9. Keep your kitchen clean. A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen.

Visit your local WFPS Station on Saturday, October 14 to meet emergency responders and learn about fire safety. Introducing children to responders can be a good way to build relationships and ensure kids feel comfortable with responders should an emergency occur.

Open houses will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 14, 2022 at all WFPS stations.

WFPS members will be present at select Canadian Tire stores over the weekend where they will have booths set up inside to demonstrate the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

You can also book a presentation with WFPS’s public education branch on home escape planning at