Charleston Fire Department urges 'cooking with care'

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Before you fire up the grill on Labor Day weekend, the Charleston Fire Department wants to remind everyone to "cook with care."

Cooking fires are the number one cause of house fires in the U.S. each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The Charleston Fire department went on 158 cooking-related calls in 2014, and incidents typically increase around the holidays, according to the department's deputy fire marshal Ryan Kunitzer.

The department's #1 tip to careful cooking? Don't walk away from what you're cooking.

They also recommend creating a 3-foot "kid-free" zone around your stove or grill when hot food is being prepared.  Turn pot and pan handles inward to help prevent them from being pulled down or knocked over.

The cooking area should also be clear of pot holders, plastic bags, towels or other flammable materials

If a pan catches fire, don't pick it up. The fire department recommends putting on the lid to cut off the fire's oxygen, and then turning off the stove if it can be done safety.

The fire department also said to keep a fire extinguisher near the cooking area. Don't have one? Baking soda could also be a safe alternative, but the department emphasizes: "when in doubt, get out" and call 911.

Jill Evans, program coordinator with the Medical University of South Carolina, said more than 70% of burn injuries requiring hospital admissions happen inside the home.  "To prevent accidental burns and other injuries, we must first start with safeguarding our homes," Evans added.

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