This is National Fire Prevention Week, and fire safety officials say one of the best places to prevent a fire is in the kitchen.

There are an average of more than 164,000 cooking fires in residential buildings each year, and the National Fire Protection Association says kitchens are the leading area of origin for home structure fires – 42% of the time.

The leading causes are the ignition of oil, fat and grease.

Fire safety officials remind us to clean up food and grease from burners and stove tops.

And if a grease fire does occur, while it's small, best to smother it by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the stove top, leaving the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

Officials say DO NOT put water on a grease fire because that will only cause the grease to splash and spread the flames.

Same danger if you try to carry the pan with the burning oil outside.

They say you've only got a brief time to control the flames or you should evacuate the home.

And, they stress the best way to prevent such fires is to stay in the kitchen while cooking so you can keep an eye on what's happening.

Prevent Kitchen Fires” was the theme for the 17th Annual Fire Prevention Parade this morning in downtown Columbia.

(Photo courtesy of Columbia Fire Department)