Fires are more likely to occur in the kitchen than anywhere else. Every year nearly 172,000 households experience a fire in the kitchen. Sadly kitchen fires are often preventable when fire safety techniques are employed. With all of the home cooking occuring this year, we thought we’d share some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Cooking can often lead to kitchen fires. Be sure to teach everyone in your household fire safety in both indoor and outdoor kitchens/grill areas. Good rules to follow are:
- Stay in the kitchen or within eyesight of your outdoor grill when heat sources are active.
- Set a timer for items you’re cooking
- Check on food regularly
- Never place anything on stovetops
- Create a kid-free zone around heat sources
Train Children and Pets to Avoid Dangerous Areas
Teach children that stoves, pots, pans, grills and cooking utensils are not toys. Keep children and pets in a separate spot away from the kitchen while you’re cooking. It’s a good idea to always maintain this boundary even when no heat sources are active because children and pets have trouble judging situations. Keep a close eye on heat sources while you’re cooking to ensure children and pets steer clear of danger.
Clean Appliances Regularly
An appliance covered in debris is more likely to catch fire. Be sure to keep your kitchen clean and clutter-free to reduce danger. It’s important to:
- Clean crumbs from toasters. Toaster crumbs are like kindling to a fire. It doesn’t take a lot to cause a serious problem.
- Remove grease and spills from stovetops. It’s very easy to cover drip pans in aluminum foil which can be removed after grease or food has soiled them.
- Regularly clean the inside of the oven. Be sure to ventilate the kitchen when you’re using cleaners to remove debris from the oven interior.
- Be sure multiple appliances are not sharing one plug. Do not use extension cords or power strips to add additional appliances to outlets. Alternate which outlet is plugged in based on need. Do not leave small appliances plugged in when not in use.
- Refrigerator coils are free of dust. This keeps you safe and also extends the life of your refrigerator.
- Scrape and clean outdoor grills and smokers after each use.
Keep Flammable Items Away From Heat Sources
Butter, shortening, and oils can catch fire easily. Often these have a lower smoke point. Some items such a Marsala or sherry can explode if stored near the stove. It’s best to keep these in a cabinet away from any heat sources or the refrigerator.
Don’t spray Grease in the Oven
Never spray flammable materials in the oven. It may seem quicker to spray the pan or cooking sheet with spray oil while it’s still sitting on the oven rack but this is incredibly dangerous. Oils are highly combustible and take little heat to cause a large explosion.
Keep Your Pan Handles Inward
Pans should be placed on burners with the handles facing the center of oven or facing the backsplash. A pan handle facing outward is at risk of being bumped or tipped. This can splash hot oils or food onto surfaces causing a fire or burning the skin. Children also often get burned by outward facing handles because they grab them trying to see what’s inside.
Check for gas leaks
It’s important to periodically inspect pipes and fittings for leaks. The easiest way to check is mix soap and water in a small bowl. Rub some of the solution onto any fittings. If there’s a leak bubbles will form anywhere gas is escaping. Check barbecue grills, behind stoves and other appliances that use gas.
Accidents happen, even when we are careful to avoid them. Make sure your family has an emergency plan should a fire occur.
Create a Fire Escape Plan
Everything in your home is replaceable except for you and your family. It’s important to establish multiple escape routes for everyone and practice exiting safely, determining a meetup spot and staying outside once you’ve exited. It’s especially important to make sure children understand not to return to the fire for toys or other items. Often children underestimate danger and may go back inside a burning house before you can stop them.
Install or Test Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms save thousands of lives each year through early detection of fires. If you don’t already have one, consider ordering a smoke alarm, like this First Alert Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarm.
Fire detectors should follow several rules including:
- Be 10 feet from kitchen appliances
- Be no more than 12 inches from the ceiling
- Be inside and outside sleeping areas
- Be on every level of your home
- Be over stairways especially leading to the basement
- Be kept away from sources of drafts like windows
Know Your Fire Suppressors
Different types of fires require different types of extinguishers. It’s essential to know what caused the fire to put it out properly. Here are a few different types of extinguishers you can use to put out a fire:
- Carbon Dioxide, like the Kidde 466180 Pro 5: These are used for energized equipment and some flammable liquids. Never use a Carbon Dioxide extinguisher for a trash or grease fire.
- Dry Chemical, like the Amerex B402, 5lb unit: These stop fires on solids, flammable liquids and electrical appliances. As with Carbon Dioxide extinguishers Dry Chemical Extinguishers should never be used in the event of a grease fire.
- Wet Chemical, like the Amarex B260: These can extinguish a grease fire and are primarily used in professional kitchens.
- Baking soda or salt: In the event of a grease fire at home, first put the lid on the pot or pan and turn off the stove or grill. A tight fitting lid should extinguish the fire through lack of oxygen. If that doesn’t work sprinkle baking soda or salt on the fire. NEVER USE WATER TO EXTINGUISH A GREASE FIRE, it won’t put the fire out and will instead spread it throughout the kitchen.
Consider Fire Prevention Sprinklers
Fire sprinklers react solely to heat not smoke. They also work when you’re not in the home. Fire sprinklers can hook up to your plumbing or have stand alone plumbing. They’re the number one way to prevent kitchen fires. To have a fire sprinkler system installed, reach out to your local fire protection company.
Grab a Hose for Outdoor Cooking
If you’re cooking outside on the grill or using a smoker, have what you need to put out a fire at the ready. If a grease fire, follow the instructions above – have either a wet chemical fire extinguisher on hand or baking soda and salt. Do NOT use a hose. If any other type of fire, use a hose or a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. If using a gas stove, turn off the gas if you are not in danger of burning yourself by doing so.
Cooking has a purpose – to nourish our bodies, but it can also be fun! By following a few safety tips and being prepared in case of an emergency, you and your family can fully enjoy time together. Don’t forget to enjoy the meal, too!