Experts say kitchen fires in Canada increased during COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- Canada’s fire services say they have seen an increase number of kitchen fires as more people stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People are now at home more than ever before," Cynthia Ross Tustin, the president of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, told CTV News Toronto.
According to Allstate Canada Insurance, residential fires related to cooking or smoking saw a 333 per cent increase between March and May 2020.
Between those months, most of the population was self-isolating due to COVID-19. Even as people started to go back to work, in comparison to the same time last year, there is still an increase of 62 per cent so far in 2020.
Toronto’s Fire Chief Matthew Pegg also said that, “the number one cause of residential fires in Toronto is unattended cooking.”
Fire officials say many families have a lot more on the go in their homes and must make sure they're paying attention while cooking.
“Now people are at home. They are working at home. They are schooling their children at home. They have all these extra distractions they never had before," Ross Tustin said.
Fire experts say that one of the worst mistakes a person can make to have a grease fire is to throw water on it. Fire officials say in the event of stove fire, use an oven mitt and a pot lid to smother the fire and then leave the lid in place.
If someone doesn’t have a lid, a cookie sheet or something else that can smother the fire and starve it from oxygen, can also work.
It's recommended people have at least one fire extinguisher in their home and should know how to use it. They’ll want to make sure it's fully charged and remember the pass method.
Experts say the number two most frequent cause of residential fires is smoking, which is why smokers are advised to smoke outside and ensure butts are completely extinguished.
During National Fire Prevention Week it is a good time to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or try them to make sure they are in working order.
Statistics show that one third of fire fatalities in Ontario were in places that did not have a working fire alarm.