Firefighters caution: Watch what you heat

safety -- Cooking tips are offered by local fire department as part of National Fire Prevention week

It's National Fire Prevention Week and Forest Grove firefighters are urging residents to be safe in their kitchens and 'Watch what they heat.'

Many house fires start in the kitchen, according to David Nemeyer, a fire inspector for Forest Grove Fire and Rescue. And, he said, the number-one reason a kitchen fire occurs is because people leave the kitchen when food is cooking. He offers the following fire-safety tips to help make your kitchen a safer place.

• Be sure an adult is in the kitchen at all times when food is cooking.

• Maintain a 'kid-free zone' of at least three feet around the cook top.

• Keep all combustibles at least 18 inches away from any heat-producing appliance.

• Make sure a properly maintained fire extinguisher is readily available.

• Keep the kitchen clean, including ventilation ducts, floors and wall surfaces.

• Avoid wearing long sleeves or loose clothing when cooking.

• Ensure a working smoke alarm is installed in your home and test it monthly.

•Use only appliances, cords, and electrical wall outlets that are in good condition.

• Have a home fire escape and safety plan and practice it regularly.

• If a fire starts in the pan you are using calmly use a pot holder or oven mitt to slide a tight fitting pan lid over top of the fire, then turn off the heat to that burner. If a fire starts in the oven, leave the oven door closed and turn the oven off.

• Never put water on a grease or electrical fire and never try to move burning material outside.

• If a fire continues to grow use an ABC rated fire extinguisher to put it out. If a fire occurs in your home, notify the fire department by calling 9-1-1 from a safe location, even if you think the fire is out.

Firefighters from Forest Grove Fire and Rescue will be talking about kitchen fire safety with local elementary students at their schools this week.

Parents should look for special fire safety homework that their children are bringing home, including a special invitation to the annual Public Safety Open House from 10 a.m until 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Forest Grove Fire Station. Everyone is invited to attend.