Pasco Fire Dept. expects increase in cooking fires as more people stay home

PASCO, Wash. — More people are staying home due to Gov. Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order enacted this week.

With more people staying home, the Pasco Fire Department is addressing some safety concerns that are increasing due to the number of people now indoors. One of the top issues — cooking fires.

“It’s not always about a COVID issue. We got other safety things we have to think about at home,” said Ben Shearer with the Pasco Fire Department. “Unattended cooking is almost always the biggest thing.”

Shearer said to never walk away while you’re cooking food.

“You got to watch the kids, making sure that the’re safe, but anytime that you got that hot pan on the stove going, you got to stay with it and keep an eye on it,” he said.

If you do happen to have a small cooking fire start, Shearer said the best thing to do is take the lid and slide it over the fire — keeping the lid between yourself and the fire. Once you put it over the pot, turn off the stove and let the fire cool down.

The way the pot is positioned is also another concern.

“We’re talking about keeping the stove handles turned into the stove so no one comes along and bumps them, knocks that cooking material — that hot cooking material off on them,” he explained.

To save lives before a fire starts, Shearer is encouraging everyone to check their smoke alarms now. He said it’s the perfect time since everyone is at home.

Not only do parents need to watch their children around the kitchen, but outside as well.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of youth-set fires,” Shearer said.

On Tuesday, Shearer said a fire was started by kids near the Blue Bridge.

“We have an increase in those calls already happening since school’s been out,” he said. “Making sure you know where your kids are. Making sure that they have other activities to do and talk to them about that danger.”

Another safety concern are the chemicals around the house — possibly more than what you would normally have.

“Like bottles of hand sanitizer, you know, before we never saw that sitting around our house,” Shearer said. “Now everybody’s got bottles of hand sanitizer.”

He said it could be simple for children to get their hands on something like bleach or other liquid chemicals while you’re cleaning.

“Kids grabbing that, you know, you can end up with some chemical issues,” Shearer explained. “If they put them in their mouth or if they put it up against their face or their skin.”

Shearer added that it’s also easy for children to get alcohol poisoning because of their size and the amount of alcohol that’s in disinfecting wipes.

“It’s not always what gets into their stomach,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just getting it into their mouth. It inhales into their lungs.”

While people are following the safety precautions for the COVID-19 pandemic, Shearer said they should be doing the same to make sure their family is safe inside.

“We want to make sure again that we’re keeping that stuff [chemicals] away from those little hands,” he said.