Vital fire safety tips

Don't try this at home: Firefighter Drew McKenna shows what can happen if water is poured onto a burning stove. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Don't try this at home: Firefighter Drew McKenna shows what can happen if water is poured onto a burning stove. Picture: Gene Ramirez

HUNTINGWOOD firefighters treated people at Doonside Cottage to a fiery display of what to avoid when a kitchen meal threatens to burn the house down.

On Wednesday Station Officer Rick Cousins led a home safety workshop at the cottage.

"Last year, during the colder months from May to September, there were 1900 house fires in NSW," Station Officer Cousins said.

"Eleven people died and 230 were injured.

"Forty-seven per cent of the fires started in the kitchen."

Firefighters demonstrated this danger with a kitchen-fire simulator, a mobile gas jet with protective metal sides.

They heated a pot of cooking oil to the point at which flames ignited, and then showed people what no one should do.

Firefighter Drew McKenna poured a cup of water onto the flames, which flared higher into the air.

"Don't use water to put out cooking oil or fat fires," Station Officer Cousins said.

"If this had been in your kitchen, areas round your stove would have caught fire."

He said many people were unaware that water actually spread oil-based or fat-based fires, the same way it spreads petrol blazes.

He recommended people clean their stoves after cooking and keep a fire blanket and a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Station Officer Cousins also said people should never leave cooking, heating or naked flames unattended.

"Keep clothes and furniture at least one metre from the heater," he said.

"Turn off all heaters before you leave the house or go to sleep."

Station Officer Cousins said that before going to bed, people should switch off their electric blankets.

"If you do have an emergency, switch off all appliances and call triple-0."

■More details: fire.nsw.gov.au, then click Home Fire Safety.

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