National Chip Week: 21 - 27 February, 2011
A total of 222 accidental dwelling fires reported in 2010 in Herefordshire and Worcestershire started in the kitchen, but while only 18 accidental fires were sparked by overheated chip pans, the resulting 14 casualties show how dangerous these fires can be.
Leaving a chip pan unattended for any length of time can have disastrous results as the oil can easily overheat and ignite. A simple switch from the pan to the oven or a temperature controlled deep-fat fryer can help prevent the worst.
"From the chip shop to the kitchen table, chips will quite rightly be on the menu this week," says Watch Commander Darren Packwood from HWFRS's Community Safety department. "But the smallest distraction when using a hot chip pan could lead to a fire in a matter of moments. Oven chips are a safer and healthier option, but if you do choose to deep fat fry, please don't leave the pan unattended. If your pan does catch light, don't throw water over it - get out, stay out and call 999."
Watch Commander Packwood added: "Thankfully we have relatively few fires associated with chip pans in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area but understanding just how dangerous hot fat can be, we are keen to make people aware of the fire risk and ensure they know exactly what to do if they should have a chip pan fire."
If you do choose to deep fat fry your chips, these all-year-round fire safety tips could help reduce the risk:
- Don't overfill a chip pan with oil – never fill it more than one-third full.
- Be careful that it doesn't overheat - hot oil can catch fire easily.
- Use a thermostat-controlled deep-fat fryer, which will make sure the fat doesn't get too hot
- Never throw water on a chip pan fire
- Don't cook after drinking alcohol
- Never leave cooking unattended
- In the event of a fire, have an escape route in place
- Don't take risks by tackling a fire. Get out, stay out and call 999
- Get a smoke alarm and test it weekly
For further advice on fire safety visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills while for more information on National Chip Week visit www.lovechips.co.uk.
* 78% of chip pan fires result in injury - out of the 18 accidental dwelling fires caused by chip pans or deep fat fryers in 2010 in Herefordshire & Worcestershire, 14 (or 78%) resulted in injuries.