Dubbo residents might want to reconsider turning on their slow cookers before leaving home.
Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters in Dubbo have launched a campaign with the slogan "keep looking when cooking" and unattended slow cookers are among its targets.
In fact, all "flames and heat sources" left to their own devices in kitchens can cause havoc.
This week Dubbo Fire Station's Chris Cusack said the most common cause of house fires in the region was people taking their eyes off their cooking.
The slow cooker got special mention from Commander Cusack as he prepared to distribute campaign material to butchers in Dubbo for gifting to customers.
"We're moving into winter and people like slow cookers and things like that," he said. "They put them on before they go to work."
Commander Cusack warned them of the resulting "increased risk of something going wrong".
"...we would strongly advise even with slow cookers and things like that to be always in attendance," he said.
...we would strongly advise even with slow cookers and things like that to be always in attendance.Dubbo Fire Station's Commander Chris Cusack
Commander Cusack said both state and Dubbo region data showed a "high percentage" of house fires started in the kitchen because cooks were not watching what they were doing.
"It can take just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but only seconds to prevent one," he said.
"A working smoke alarm gives you vital seconds to get out before you're overcome. We recommend 10-year smoke alarms powered by lithium batteries."
The firefighters also recommend turning off the stove when leaving the kitchen; keeping the likes of tea towels and curtains away from the stove; turning pot handles inwards; keeping ovens and rangehoods clean; never using LPG cylinders for cooking or heating indoors, and not overloading power points.
Commander Cusack has told of the "wave of emotions" including embarrassment and distress experienced by people who allow a fire to spread by not attending to their cooking.
The campaign material to be handed out by Dubbo butchers includes free spatulas adorned with fire safety messages and activity books for children promoting fire safety.
To book a home fire safety visit or get more information, contact Dubbo Fire Station on 6884 7447 or visitwww.fire.nsw.gov.au .