SIDNEY — The kitchen can be a dangerous place.
“A friend of mine got burnt pretty bad from a cooking accident,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview.
The person, he said, was taking a cup out of the microwave and accidentally spilled it on himself, causing a burn on his hand.
According to Lenhart, there are 2,500 deaths annually that are related to kitchen-type burns. The burns can be from hot grease, hot water or a fire.
“Two-thirds of the kitchen fires are related to food or cooking incidents,” he said. “Two-thirds are also related to range top incidents.
“Our stove is a flat surface and you can’t tell that a burner is turned on,” said Lenhart. “We’ve melted a number of plastic containers on the stove.”
Lenhart said he contacted Dr. Fred Haussman, Wilson Health emergency room, about the number of kitchen-related burns the department sees each year.
“There were 750-plus burns seen in the emergency room,” said Lenhart. “Most of hem were on the person’s upper body and hands.”
Lenhart said many people try to treat the burns themselves before going to a physician or emergency room.
“Sometimes that makes a bad situation worse,” he said.
Many of the patients seen at Wilson Health are transferred to Miami Valley Hospital which has the area’s only burn unit.
Lenhart offered some tips to stay safe in the kitchen.
• Always stay alert. Try not to be in the kitchen when you’re half asleep.
• Stay in the kitchen if you’re frying or boiling food. If you are baking something, be sure to check it from time to time.
• Use a timer to remind you about what’s going on.
• Use hot pads, oven mitts and wooden utensils when cooking.
“Seven hundred people die each year while using a toaster,” said Lenhart. “They might get a heat burn or a burn from the electrical system.”
The microwave is also dangerous because of the temperature food and water is heated to.
“It’s hotter than boiling water,: said Lenhart.
Lenhart also recommends keeping small children away from stoves and microwaves while they are in use.
“Have a kid-free zone three feet around your stove or microwave,” he said. “it’s also dangerous to hold a child while your cooking.”
Those cooking should be aware of their surroundings when it comes to pots, pans and possible fires.
“When cooking, assume all pots and pans are hot,” said Lenhart. “Always use hot pads, long oven mitts” when taking items off the stove or out of the oven.
Placing the hot pans on the serving table can also cause other items on the table to get hot, he said. Be cautious when cooking pasta or deep frying food as you can be splattered by hot water or hot grease.
“If a fire starts, act quickly to put it out,” said Lenhart. “If the fire is in the oven or microwave, close the doors as that will suffocate the fire. Also turn the oven off.”
If the fire continues to smoke, call 911, he said.
If the fire starts in a pot or pan, quickly place a lid on the item and turn the stove off, he said.
“You should always have a fire extinguisher handy,” he said. “If you have to use it, start at the base of the fire.”
Lenhart said you should never use water to put out a grease fire as that will cause the fire to spread.
“If the fire is small, cover it with a lid and get it (pan or pot) off the burner,” he said. “You can use baking soda or salt to help put the fire out. Never use flour as that will cause the fire to explode.
“Also, don’t swat at the fire with a towel, apron or piece of clothing. That will only cause the fire to spread,” he said.
If you can’t get the fire out, he said, ”Call 911 and get out of the house.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.