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Schmidt: A hot topic

BY GRAYSON SCHMIDT | JANUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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An entire business destroyed, people left without a home, and a man stripped of his business. This is not what an Iowa City woman expected to result from cooking French fries. But it is precisely what ensued on the night of Jan. 22.

As reported by The Daily Iowan, the woman decided to rest her eyes while her pot of cooking oil began to sizzle on the stove. This tiny moment of carelessness caused the destruction of two apartments and a local business. And it all could have been avoided had she paid more attention to something many take for granted.

This fire must serve as a warning to all that when it comes to cooking, there is no such thing as too safe. People, especially first-time apartment renters, need to pay more attention. This holds true for everyone, whether they are the next Gordon Ramsay or if their most accomplished meal is Easy Mac.

Iowa City Fire Marshal John Grier described “unattended cooking” as the leading cause of house or apartment fires in the Iowa City area.

“We have just become complacent,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s not going to happen to me; it’s going to happen to that other guy.”

Now, I realize that this is the digital age of multitasking, but not when it comes to fire. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, cooking causes two out of every five reported home fires, and 15 percent of all home-fire fatalities in the nation.

We are all human, so if food were to catch fire on the stove, please be sure to smother it. As prescribed by Grier, other options are to use a fire extinguisher that most apartments have, or throw baking soda or flour on it. But do not ever attempt to put it out with water — this will simply cause it to spread and make the situation even worse.

When it comes to the recent fire that destroyed a local business, consider it a reminder of the potential outcomes of carelessness.


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