Cooking for loved ones? Be safe on Shrove Tuesday and Valentine's Day

Are you making pancakes and a romantic home-cooked meal for Valentine’s Day? Children across the region will be on half term and may be spending more time in the kitchen, families will be flipping and eating pancakes and some couples will be enjoying romantic home-cooked meals. Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is giving out advice on how to stay safe in the kitchen.

Each year, more accidental fires in the home are caused by cooking than anything else. Cooking-related fires tend to result in the most non-fatal casualties and the second most fatalities (behind smoking products) so the importance of promoting cooking fire safety messages cannot be overestimated. In 2017, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to 65 accidental fires in dwellings where the main cause was cooking or cooking chip pan/deep fat fryer. This represents 17% of all accidental dwelling fires during 2017 (372).

Station Manager, Chris Barber said: “There is an increase in kitchen activity on those days and as with Christmas and other celebrations, people may have visitors or get more distracted. We are encouraging residents to make the most of pancake day and Valentine’s Day by checking their smoke alarms and following our safety tips”.

Why pancakes and who was Valentine?

Shrove Tuesday (13th February) gets its name from the ritual of “shriving”, that Christians used to undergo in the past. In this ritual, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them. It’s the last day before Lent and is celebrated with pancakes to use up ingredients like sugar and eggs and other thinks that people are likely to give up for lent.

Valentine’s Day (14th February) this year falls on Ash Wednesday. It’s the first time since 1945. The Feast of St. Valentine commemorates the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial in the III Century AD. There might have been more than a Valentine, but somewhere along the way, a Roman Christian martyr became associated with the tradition of courtly love and helping couples wed. Apart from love and romance, St. Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy.

Over the years, Valentine’s Day evolved into the current celebrations with cards, chocolates, gifts and a special meal at a restaurant or at home.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue’s Cooking Safety Tips

Cooking safely

  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
  • Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking – take pans off the heat or turn hobs down to avoid risk.

Take care with electrics

  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.

Deep fat frying

  • Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily.
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash.
  • If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
  • Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer. They can’t overheat.

What to do if a pan catches fire:

  • Don’t take any risks. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so. Never throw water over it.
  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself – Get Out, Stay Out, Call 999.