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24 January 2011, 15:53 | Updated: 10 February 2011, 11:33
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is urging residents to take a little extra care when they are cooking.
The plea comes after latest Fire Service figures revealed that more than half the house fires in West Sussex start in the kitchen.
From the beginning of April 2009 to the end of September 2010 firefighters in West Sussex have been called to 828 accidental fires in the homes. Significantly 59% of those started in the kitchen, many as a result of unattended or careless cooking.
Head of Community Fire & Road Safety for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Roger Wood, said:
"Our priority is to keep people safe, so this high number of kitchen fires is a real concern for us. Sometimes just the smallest lapses of concentration can have devastating consequences and what is frustrating is that so many of these fires could easily have been avoided.
We understand how busy people's lives are and that there can be a multitude of distractions, but regardless of what is going on around you, please don't leave your pan or grill unattended - if you are called away from the oven, even if it is only momentarily, then take the pans off the heat."
"If you add alcohol into the mix, people then become very vulnerable because the likelihood of being distracted or falling asleep is significantly increased. If you are asleep when a fire breaks out, it only takes a few breaths of smoke before you are rendered unconscious" added Roger.
Tips on staying safe in the kitchen:
.Don't take a risk by getting distracted - take pans off the heat if you are called away from the kitchen
.Don't cook if you are tired or if you've been drinking. If you're hungry - have something that doesn't need to be cooked!
.Check that you have turned off the oven, cooker or hob when you have finished cooking
.Clean hobs and grill pans regularly to avoid the build up of fat, which can catch fire?
.Don't put oven gloves or tea-towels down onto the hot cooker after you've used them
.Never fill a chip pan (or other deep-fat fryer) more than one-third full of oil. Consider using a thermostatically controlled deep fat fryer - this will ensure that the fat does not get too hot
.If a pan catches fire don't move it - it will be extremely hot. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so, but never lean over a pan to reach the controls
If you do have a fire in the kitchen, don't take any risks - get everyone out of your home and call 999.