Statistics show that most household fires begin in the kitchen. Take some time this month to review these safety precautions with all the chefs in your home.
- Limit multi-tasking and distractions and don’t leave the kitchen while cooking is in process! Distracted and unattended cooking are at the root of most kitchen fire incidents. Most potential interruptions can wait until you are done. If it can’t wait, turn off the heat! If you have something that is slow-roasting or simmering for several hours, try to stay within visual range and set a timer so you remember to check on it regularly.
- Keep cooking areas clean and don’t store flammables in or near cooking areas. Spilled food and grease and dangling curtains, towels and even potholders will provide ready fuel for fires.
- Roll up sleeves, tuck in shirts and pull back hair. Also, try to avoid wearing fabrics with low melt points in the kitchen. If you are teaching small princesses to cook, save the tulle and gauzey fabrics for the ballroom—they can be very dangerous in the kitchen.
- Keep cords out of way. Wayward cords can make it difficult to function and their plastic coatings can melt and ignite.
- Make sure kitchen appliances are in good repair. Damaged appliances can overheat, short circuit, or fail to shut off when you need them to. Repair or replace as needed.
- Heat cooking oil slowly and not beyond its smoke point. Use this chart and a thermometer. Smoke indicates that the oil could soon ignite.
Extinguishing small fires—
- Turn off heat.
- If the fire is in a pan, cover with a lid and do not remove until pan cools.
- If the fire is in an oven (toaster, standard or microwave) keep door closed until flames and smoke are gone.
- Small fires that do not involve oil or grease may be extinguished using water, but step back and watch out for hot steam!
- If the fire involves oil or grease, sprinkle thickly with baking soda or use a fire extinguisher. Water will just spread the flames. An ABC extinguisher is adequate for most household fires.
- Recharge or replace used extinguishers. Many are sized only for a single fire incident.
- Don’t install a smoke alarm inside your kitchen. If it sounds every time you boil water for spaghetti, most people will end up disabling it, leaving you virtually alarm-less. It is better to install it a few feet outside the kitchen where it will be unaffected by normal cooking vapors, but will still alert you in a true emergency.
- If a fire is large or spreading, get out, close the doors behind you to limit oxygen and call 911 from a safe location—outside or at a neighbor’s house.