22 February 2011

It’s National Chip Week (21st to 25th February) and Northamptonshire County Council’s fire and rescue service is reminding people to stay safe whilst still enjoying one of the nation’s most popular foods.

More than half of accidental fires at home are started by cooking and cooking with oil or a deep fat fryer will further increase this risk.

Many kitchen fires happen when people are not paying attention or they leave cooking unattended. A telephone call or someone calling at the door is long enough of a distraction for a pan to be left on unattended before it’s too late.

There are several things that can be done to help prevent fires in the kitchen when cooking with oil or deep fat frying. Hot oil can catch fire easily so avoid over-filling the pan or fryer with oil and only use a deep fat fryer that is thermostat controlled to ensure the fat doesn’t get too hot.

When cooking on the hob, turning handles in so they don’t stick out over the edge or another ring and turning off the heat if called away will help reduce the risk. It is not advisable to cook after drinking alcohol or taking prescription drugs that could cause drowsiness or affect concentration.

Using oven chips as an alternative is not only healthier but also drastically reduces the likelihood of a fire caused by hot oil.

If a cooking fire does break out, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service give the following advice:

  • Don't take any risks or tackle the fire yourself
  • If possible turn off the power supply, but only if it is safe to do so and then immediately leave the property
  • Call 999 and stay out.

Darren Dovey, Area Manager for Service Delivery for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said “People can help to reduce the likelihood of a cooking accident happening in their home by following some simple safety advice. Many of the accidental cooking fires which our crews attend are due to similar causes. As its National Chip Week we hope to raise awareness of what can be done to prevent these type of accidents happening and improve safety in Northamptonshire homes.

“Many people still believe that they should tackle a chip pan fire themselves, either by placing a damp tea towel or pouring water onto the pan to extinguish the flames and then moving the pan outside. This can result in serious injuries or death so the advice we give is never to do this - people should immediately get out, stay out and call 999.”

For more information on all aspects of home fire safety, please contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Prevention Team on 01604 797000 or email enquiries@northantsfire.org.uk

Additional information:

From April 2010 to January 2011 there were 19 chip pan fires in the county, compared to 23 in the previous full year (April 2009 to March 2010)

For more information visit the Fire Kills website www.direct.gov.uk/firekills