Regina Fire and Protective Services is hoping more people become aware of kitchen safety after reporting the leading cause of fires over the last 10 years in the city comes from cooking.

The effort is part of Fire Prevention Week, which has been named ‘Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.’ The safety week runs from Oct. 4-10.

“Many people would have been cooking fires and they would try and extinguish them themselves, but they didn’t know how,” said Regina Fire Chief Layne Johnson.

The department reported responding to more than 1,900 cooking alarms in the past four years.

Noticing the trend, it has been trying to increase education efforts about fires caused by cooking.

“Our educational programming is targeted towards changing behaviours, unsafe behaviours,” said Angela Prawzick, the Public Education Officer with Regina Fire and Protective Services.

Firefighters have been collecting data from cooking fire calls since 2014, with the data analyzed by researchers at the University of Regina.

The study, released in late 2017, found young people under age 25, seniors over age 65 and newcomers to Canada were at highest risk for severe cooking fire incidents.

The fire department has focused its efforts on those groups, but everyone can benefit from a few safety tips while cooking, Prawzick said.

Chief Jackson says the main reason kitchen fires start is because people get distracted or leave the room.

He recommended people follow these rules:

  • Stay in the room when using the stove. If you have to leave, turn the burner off and remove the pot or pan.
  • Keep flammable items like towels or pot holders away from the stove surface.
  • Don’t let children or pets play near the heat source.
  • Make sure to have a large lid nearby.
  • Putting a lid on a pan that catches fire essentially suffocates the flames because they need air to survive, Prawzick said.
  • Other important reminders include:
  • Don’t ever pour water on a grease fire.
  • Don’t try to move the pan or take it outside because you may burn yourself.

Prawzick said the number of cooking fires has decreased in recent years, but the Fire Department won’t know the total impact of its efforts until a new report is released in the next few months.

In the meantime, they’re hoping fire prevention week serves as a timely reminder to stay vigilant.

Chief Jackson said people need to have smoke alarms on every level and especially outside sleeping areas. Smoke alarms should be checked monthly to ensure they are still working.