Preparing a good home-cooked meal in the kitchen could go seriously wrong if some basic fire prevention rules aren't followed.
Fort Dodge firefighters are stressing those rules during this week's observation of Fire Prevention Week, which has the national theme "Prevent Kitchen Fires."
The firefighters plan to spread the word about the dangers of cooking fires and teach residents how to prevent them.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge firefighter Chuck DeBaun demonstrates how to safety deal with a small fire in a skillet by carefully covering it with a lid.
The Fire Prevention Week activities also include visits to schools and a Saturday open house at the fire station, 1515 Central Ave.
"All it takes is a few seconds of not paying attention," said Fire Chief Kent Hulett. "Kitchen fires spread remarkably quickly in a short period of time."
"Often when we're called to a fire that started in the kitchen, the residents tell us that they only left the kitchen for a few minutes," he added. "Sadly, that's all it takes for a dangerous fire to start. We hope that Fire Prevention Week will help us reach folks in the community before they've suffered a damaging lesson."
Fort Dodge Fire Department open house
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, with vehicle rescue demonstration at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Fire station, 1515 Central Ave.
What: Tours of the fire station, display of fire trucks and equipment, safety house for children, Sparky the Fire Dog. Snacks and drinks available.
To prevent such blazes, firefighters recommend that people stay in the kitchen and pay attention to what they're doing while cooking.
If a fire does break out in the kitchen, Hulett said the first priority is getting everybody out of the home. He said some small fires can be stopped by turning off the stove or putting a lid on top of a burning pan.
"With kitchen fires we're also emphasizing smoke detectors," Hulett said.
"I've never been at a fire where someone was killed, injured or where a firefighter was seriously injured in places where they had properly maintained and installed smoke detectors," he said.
Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, he said. A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove any dust that accumulates on the detector, he added.