Kitchen Safety 101: Fire Prevention
March 17, 2022
Kitchen Safety 101: Fire Prevention
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about 173,000 home cooking fires happen every year in the U.S. These result in 4,820 injuries and roughly 550 deaths. Most fires can be prevented with kitchen safety. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking-related fires. But being attentive is not enough. There are many means of prevention, which we’ll cover below.
Safety While Cooking
The kitchen is practically the only place we regularly interact with fire and heat (many homes have fireplaces, fire pits, etc., but there’s virtually no household without a kitchen!). You can reduce the risk of fire with these tips:
- Don’t leave the kitchen while the stove is on: High heat, open flames, grease, and hot food being broiled, boiled, grilled, or fried is a serious fire hazard. Turn off the oven/burner if you walk away for even a moment.
- Keep combustible materials away: Towels, packaging, pot holders, and other flammable items should never be near the cooking area.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy: Make sure the extinguisher is suited for home use and know how to use it.
- Keep cooking appliances clean: Stovetop grease, crumbs, and food particles in the toaster, and even dust behind appliances, can catch fire. Also wipe up spills as soon as they occur.
- Keep appliances in good repair: Regularly wipe down the stove, toaster, and microwave. If an appliance starts acting unusual, unplug it and call for professional service.
- Unplug whatever you’re not using: Toaster ovens, coffee makers, blenders, and other appliances draw electricity even when not on. If there’s a wiring problem, overheating can trigger a fire.
- Don’t overfill pots and pans: If hot oil or grease overflows, it can splatter and ignite something flammable.
- Dress appropriately: Roll up long sleeves (or wear short ones), and tie back long hair whenever you’re cooking; direct contact with a flame or burner can cause a fire.
- Dispose of grease properly: Never pour oil or grease down a drain, and let it cool before throwing it in the garbage.
- Keep metal out of the microwave: Sparks can fly, damaging the microwave and potentially causing a fire.
- Face pot handles towards the wall: They should face the back of the stove, so pots don’t accidentally get pushed or snagged on something.
Don’t Let Kids in When Cooking
Eventually, you’ll want to introduce your child to cooking. But it’s also important to recognize the kitchen is a dangerous place. Young children can increase the risk of fire and/or injury, especially if they’re under your feet or grab a container full of hot food or liquid. Keep knives away from the edge of the counter as well.
Use a Cooking Thermometer
Knowing cooking temperature is more than about cooking food thoroughly. Oil has a flash point at which it will burst into flames with no other trigger than heat. You can buy a special thermometer that instantly tells you the temperature while you are cooking. A probe thermometer clips onto the pot; keeping track of readings lets you lower the cooking temperature to prevent a fire.
Purchase a Kitchen Fire Extinguisher
No matter how careful you are, working with hot oil, heat, and flames will always carry some risk. Make sure you have an ABC fire extinguisher (ABC means it can put out ordinary combustibles, liquid fires, and electrical fires). If you use the wrong extinguisher, the fire can get more intense and spread faster. It’s also important to have a UL-rated smoke detector and know the exits and escape routes in your home.
What to Do When There’s a Fire
If there is a stovetop fire, turn off the heat source if possible, removing the fire’s source of energy (don’t reach for knobs if the fire is in the way). You can also place a lid over the fire to starve it of oxygen or throw baking soda on it.
An oven fire can be put out by turning off the appliance. Keep the oven closed, which leaves a contained space for the fire to burn itself out. If the fire spreads past the oven, use a fire extinguisher or baking soda.
A fire extinguisher can be helpful in both cases (stand 8 to 10 feet away and remember to pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the trigger, and sweep the spray from side to side). But if things get out of control, evacuate your home and call 911. Close any door behind you as you leave; the fire then can’t spread as quickly.
Where to Turn After a Kitchen Fire
Even a small kitchen fire can do a lot of damage. While practicing the kitchen safety tips above can minimize the risk of experiencing a fire, it’s wise to be prepared for during and after such an event. At Restorez, we specialize in smoke and fire damage restoration, odor elimination, duct cleaning, water damage cleanup, and other emergency services in Los Angeles. Contact us to request service online or call 323-577-6886 now.