Kitchen safety

Cook safely at home

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries.

How to prevent kitchen fires

The NFPA says that 53 percent of injuries in home fires happened while trying to put out a cooking-related fire. The best way to handle a kitchen fire is to prevent it in the first place.

  • Clear broilers and the stovetop area. Remove oven mitts, utensils, packaging, towels, and paper products, and clean off food, grease, and oil residue before cooking.
  • Clean pots and pans. Make sure they are free of grease and oil on the outside.
  • Make sure your smoke alarm works. Replace batteries regularly. Learn more here.
  • Don’t cook when you’re impaired. If you have been drinking, are exhausted, or are under the influence of mind-altering drugs or medication, don’t cook.
  • Enforce a “kid-free” zone. Do not let children or pets come within 3 feet of the stove, as they could knock something over or get too close to the burners and hurt themselves.
  • Cook carefully. Place food in hot oils carefully to prevent splatter.
  • Check food regularly. They say a watched pot never boils, but food that is being simmered, baked, roasted, or broiled should be checked often. Use a timer to remind yourself and others that food is in the oven.
  • Turn off all heating appliances when done. If it’s a small appliance, unplug it and let it cool down before storing.

What to do if you have a kitchen fire


Grease fires occur when cooking oil get too hot and reaches its flash point — the point at which the oil vapors can ignite in air. Keep in mind that different oils and fats have different flash points, meaning that the oil you cook with can affect the likelihood of a grease fire.  

  • Know the signs. Oils will first boil, then start smoking (their smoke point), and then catch on fire. Many smoke detectors are calibrated to alert you of grease fires during the smoke stage. Turn off heat and remove the pan immediately if you smell or see smoke.
  • Turn off the heat. Do not try to move the pot to avoid spilling the oil on yourself or other people.
  • Extinguish the fire. Fire safety experts recommend that after cutting the heat source, you should cover the pan with a metal lid or baking pan. If that doesn’t work, use a Class B dry chemical extinguisher, made especially for grease fires. Using a water-based extinguisher will only make the fire worse. And if you’re really in a pinch, baking soda (NOT baking powder) can potentially smother the flames, but only if the fire is small and you use a large amount of baking soda.
  • DON’T: Use water, flour, baking powder, sugar, or salt, or a wet towel to put out the fire. All of these could cause the fire to explode and escalate the situation.
  • Get out. If you cannot extinguish a fire within 8–10 seconds, immediately leave the house. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 911. Explain the situation and do not go back inside.

 

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