West Sussex firefighters warn ‘stand by your pan’

FIREFIGHTERS in West Sussex are reminding chip lovers to be vigilant as part of National Chip Week (February 20 to 26).

Almost 60 per cent of all accidental house fires in West Sussex are started in the kitchen, with the majority caused by unattended or careless cooking. Leaving a chip pan unattended for even a short 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.

Community risk reduction officer, Jackie Boyle, said: “I’m sure chips will be on many people’s menus during National Chip Week. People assume that cooking chips in a pan of hot oil is a thing of the past, but we know from the incidents our crews attend that it’s still popular. Last month a lady in Crawley sustained serious burns attempting to tackle a chip pan fire which shows just how dangerous it can be.

“We’d recommend oven chips as a safer and healthier option, but if people do choose to fry then please ensure you stand by your pan - don’t be tempted to leave it unattended. If you are unlucky enough to have a chip pan fire, please don’t try and tackle it yourself, especially not with water, it could put your life in serious danger.”

Tips on frying safely:

. Most kitchen fires occur when people leave things unattended. Don’t get distracted while cooking, if you are called away from the cooker take pans off the heat

. Never fill a chip pan (or other deep-fat fryer) more than one-third full of oil

. Consider using a thermostatically controlled deep-fat fryer - this will ensure that the fat does not get too hot

. Test it Tuesday – fit a smoke alarm on each level of your home and don’t forget that weekly test!

If a pan catches fire:

. Don’t move it – it is likely to be extremely hot

. Turn off the heat if it’s safe to do so – but never lean over a pan to reach the controls

. Don’t use water on a chip pan fire – the water reacts with the oil creating a potentially lethal fireball

. Don’t use a fire extinguisher on a pan of oil – the force of the extinguisher can spread the fire

. If you have put the fire out, leave the pan to cool completely.