As I was reading a report from the State Fire Marshal's Office about how many fires in the home are caused by cooks with a short attention span, those facts really hit home. I don't know how many times I have taken my eyes off of my stove to run go get the mail, answer a phone call, or go watch a football play on television. I would hazard to say that you might be in the same boat too. Well, this is the week we learn to do better.

This is Fire Safety Week and our State Fire Marshal's Office and the National Fire Protection Agency are asking us to really focus on doing a better job of cooking with caution. Almost half of all home fires begin with someone cooking in the kitchen and two-thirds of those fires are caused by cooking materials or food combusting during the cooking process.

To help us all do a little better at protecting our own homes, Butch Browning's Office put together some helpful tips,

• Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
• If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
• You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
• Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
• Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

Okay, I see I have some work to do. Perhaps you do too. We are getting back into the inside cooking season in Louisiana and that usually means large pots of slowly simmered goodness. Just make sure you don't forget about those beans or that gumbo because while it's fun to meet firemen, it's never fun to meet firemen while they are working on saving your home.