The Pine Bluff Fire & Emergency Services Department issued cooking fire safety tips to avoid causing a fire.

“Cooking has long been and continues to be the most common cause of home structure fires and home fire-related injuries,” according to a news release. “Whether preparing for a family dinner or a quick snack, practicing safe cooking behaviors can help keep you and your family safe.”

Safety tips include:

• Never leave the range or cooktop unattended while cooking. “If you have to leave the room, turn your range or cooktop off,” a spokesman said.

• Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves. Loose clothing can hang down onto hot surfaces and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

• Keep the cooking area clean and free of combustible materials. Food wrappers, oven mitts or other materials left on or near the stove may catch fire.

• Be sure to clean up any spilled or splattered grease. Built-up grease can catch fire in the oven or on the cooktop.

• Keep a fire extinguisher readily available. “Having an extinguisher nearby is important, but you also need to have the correct type of extinguisher and know how to properly use it,” the spokesman said.

• Never throw hot grease in the garbage as it can ignite combustible materials. Be sure to let grease cool and dispose of it in an old can, such as a metal coffee can.

• Do not store food or other items in the oven. It can be easy to forget there is an item in the oven, and this could catch fire while preheating.

What to Do If a Cooking Fire Flares Up

By exercising caution at all times in the kitchen, residents can help reduce the risk of a kitchen fire. If a fire does flare up, be prepared.

“Your safety should always come first. If you are unsure about whether it is safe to fight the fire, leave the scene, call 911 for help, and let the fire department control the fire,” the spokesman said.

• If a small fire flares up and the resident plans to extinguish it, call 911 for help first. A fire may grow out of control more quickly than anticipated. It is safer to have help already on the way.

• Smother a grease fire – never throw water on a grease fire. The super-heated water can change to steam, and can cause severe burns. Oil also can splash and spread the fire. If a grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by sliding the lid – while wearing an oven mitt – over the pan. If safe to do so, turn off the heat source. Do not move the pan, and keep the lid on until the fire is out and the pan is completely cool.

• If a fire starts in the oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat source. Keeping the door closed will help smother the flames. Do not open the door until the flames are completely out.

• If a fire starts in the microwave, turn off the microwave and do not open it until the fire is completely out. Unplug the microwave only if it can be done safely.

Residents who live in the city limits of Pine Bluff and don’t have a working smoke detector, they can receive one free from the Pine Bluff Fire & Emergency Services by calling 870-730-2048. A time will be set and members of the fire department will come to the residence and install a smoke detector and offer a home survey.

In addition, the department offers an address program by providing reflective, adhesive, numbers for the house and will install them if the home doesn’t have a visible address. This service can help insure a more certain response in case the resident needs emergency services. Free blood pressure checks are available by stopping by a local fire station.