With summertime right around the corner, your kitchen has probably already started to heat up. While you can turn your central air up or open all the windows, the number one thing you want to do to keep your kitchen cool (and your house un-damaged!) is to avoid any kitchen fires. Even if you are a master chef, kitchen fires can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye. And before you know it, a small fire can catch and turn into something far more destructive.
Safety Tips for Preventing Kitchen Fires
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the number one cause of house fires. Between 2010 and 2014, cooking equipment was the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, causing 46% of home fires that resulted in 19% of the home fire deaths and 44% of the injuries. Follow these simple tips to avoid any kitchen fires or mishaps.
- Do not leave heat or open flame unattended. It might be tempting to throw something in the oven or let something simmer on low heat and “just step away for a minute,” but unattended cooking is a recipe for disaster. A pot might boil over, wind might kick up a flame… You never know. Your best best is to stay near your cooking or turn off all heat, flame, and appliances if you must step away.
- Be aware of grease. When it becomes too hot, grease can catch fire very easily. It may be a lick of flame touching something frying or a drip of grease making its way down the side of a pan. Thankfully, grease fires can be quickly stopped by cutting off the oxygen supply to the fire. If you can, immediately turn off the heat source and put a lid over the fire in the pat until it is out. Do not try to move the flaming pot or pan as movement will fan the flames with oxygen and can risk spreading the fire.
- Wear appropriate clothing when cooking. If you have long hair, tie it back. Wear short sleeves or tight fitting sleeves. Anything loose or dangling risks touching a stray flame or getting caught on pot handles, and the last thing you want is to fling your dinner or any flames all over the kitchen.
- Keep your cooking area clean and tidy. Make sure there is no oil or grease on nearby surfaces. Keep things that can catch fire—such as dish towels, paper towel, oven mitts, etc.—a safe distance from your cooking area. Make sure anything that could melt, like plastic wrap or tupperwear, is also kept clear of your stove and oven. Never leave plastic cooking utensils resting on hot pot or pans.
- Keep an eye on kids! The last thing you want is for a small hand to get burned. Children should be kept at least three feet away from all heat sources, and be sure you are keeping an eye on them any time they are in the kitchen. Turn pot and pan handles inwards so they cannot be grabbed or knocked over.
- Use a timer. Timers are an excellent tool for the forgetful chef. Set timers—either on the oven, on your phone, or with an egg timer—to remind yourself to regularly check food that is baking, roasting, simmering, or boiling. Or use a timer to simply remind yourself that food is cooking.
These easy tips can keep your kitchen cool, your house damage-free, and your family safe. It’s easy to take an everyday activity like cooking for granted, however, it’s important to follow safety tips, especially when it comes to preventing kitchen fires.