Stay safe while cooking, warn firefighters after rise in accidents

EASTBOURNE’S firefighters say there has been an increase in accidental fires starting at home in the kitchen.

The fire service says many of the fires are related to cooking and people not paying attention or leaving things unattended.

Eastbourne Borough Commander at the fire station in Whitley Road, Dave Sheppard, said, “In the last 12 months we have seen a significant increase in fires starting accidentally in the home. A particular worry is around fires starting while people are cooking in the kitchen and becoming distracted, particularly pensioners living alone and parents with young families.”

The fire chief said there are simple guidelines that people can follow which are routinely communicated to householders by Eastbourne’s Community Safety Team members Chris Guy, Kate Graham and Jo Erridge.

Chris Guy said, “There are several things people can do to prevent fires in the kitchen. Make sure they don’t get distracted when they are cooking and follow advice such as take pans off the heat or turn the heat down if you’re called away from the cooker, take care if you’re wearing loose clothing as it can catch fire easily, don’t cook if you have been drinking alcohol or taken prescription drugs - you may get drowsy or lose concentration, turn saucepans so the handles don’t stick out over the edge of the hob or over another ring, double check that the cooker is off when you have finished cooking, make sure tea-towels aren’t hanging over the cooker and don’t put oven gloves on top of a hot cooker, keep the oven, hob and grill clean as built-up fat and bits of food can start a fire and if you are likely to be distracted or forgetful, use a kitchen timer to remind you when your food will be ready.”

Kate Graham said, “Also make sure that you have a working smoke alarm fitted in your home as they really do save lives. A working smoke alarm is essential in giving you a warning that there is a problem but it is no use if it isn’t working, so check it regularly and replace the battery every year.”

Dave Sheppard said, “In the event of a fire, get everyone out of the house, stay out and call 999, our operational crews will respond immediately to help you. Our mobilising centre will even give you advice over the phone to make sure that everyone is safe.”

The specialist community safety team in Eastbourne, based at the Community Fire Station in Whitley Road, offers free Home Safety Visits and advice on fire safety in the home.

Call Freephone 0800 177 7069 to check eligibility for free personalised home safety advice, smoke alarm checks and expert help with fitting smoke alarms.