Safety Tips: Cooking

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking is the leading cause of all fires and fire injuries in structures. Knowing how to keep your home and family safe from cooking fires is important as these are one of the most preventable fires that occur in the home. There are many simple steps you can take to prevent a fire while cooking and to protect against injury if a fire does occur.

First, and most important, is to keep a careful watch on all cooking activities. The leading cause of all kitchen fires is inattention. Here are a few basic guidelines:

Never leave your home with food cooking on the stove or in the oven, even for a short outing. Any unexpected delay can bring you back to a whole new definition of “housewarming.”

Be cautious when leaving food cooking on the stove, even just to do something in another room. It is easy to get distracted in your own home with phone calls, conversations or chores, and forget about the food.

Ensure that all combustibles and plastics are kept well away from the cooking area.

Never leave small children unattended near cooking activities and keep a very close watch over older children who are using your kitchen as a training ground for a future career on the Food Network.

When finished cooking, check all dials on the stove and oven to ensure that they are completely off.

Second, you should know that many cooking fires occur under normal cooking conditions and cannot be anticipated, even with the chef’s full attention. So, be prepared to react if a fire does start while you’re cooking.

Always have a fire extinguisher within easy reach when cooking. An ABC extinguisher is a good choice because it can be used on various types of fires, including grease fires.

Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water since it will cause a violent reaction and make things much worse. Extinguish small grease fires with an extinguisher, or they can also be put out by turning off the heat and placing a cover on the pan, or by smothering it with baking soda.

Be extra careful when cooking with flammable ingredients like butter, oil or other greasy foods that can splatter. Alcohols such as cooking wines and liquors are also highly flammable substances that should be used with caution.

Finally, the importance of having a working smoke alarm can’t be stressed enough. They are an inexpensive and effective way of alerting residents to the presence of fire before it gets out of control. Smoke alarms that are placed in or near kitchens should be equipped with a silencer button which allows you to temporarily silence the alarm during normal smoky cooking conditions. Never disconnect or remove the battery from a smoke alarm in order to cook. Forgetting to reconnect it can have terrible consequences.

Careful cooking habits can keep your kitchen safe for making all your favorite meals.