In most homes, the kitchen is a happy place. It’s where the family is gathered together to prepare meals, talk to each other, or just to enjoy a midnight snack.
Sadly, the kitchen is also the room where most home fires begin. Residential cooking is among the leading causes of fire related deaths, so it is important for homeowners to understand potential kitchen fire dangers as well as what steps they can take to prevent kitchen fires.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Kitchen Fires?
Since most kitchen fires are connected to cooking in some way or another, it is understandable that most kitchen fires happen in or around the stove or microwave. By taking just a few oven safety or stove safety precautions, many kitchen fires can be prevented. Examples of these precautions include:
When cooking on the stove, turn pots or skillets so that the handle is facing the back of the stove. This way, children won’t curiously grab the handle and loose clothing won’t accidentally bump into the handle, potentially starting a fire.
Stay at the stove while you are cooking. An unattended stove is a fire waiting to happen.
Don’t store things above the stove. Reaching over the stove to grab things could lead to loose clothing setting on fire or to you knocking over a pot or a pan and starting a fire.
Don’t store oil or cooking fat in pots or skillets on the stove. It easy for you to accidentally turn on the wrong burner and walk away only to come back to a kitchen fire.
How to Prevent Fires in the Kitchen
A kitchen fire, just like any other fire, requires fuel to continue to burn. If your oven is dirty and if food and grease particles are allowed to build up, these can easily become ignited.
Other sources of potential combustibles include dishtowels, cooking utensils made of plastic or wood, grocery bags, curtains, and decorations.
Some homeowners use their oven as an extra storage space. This is a big no-no. If a fire were to start, the stored material would simply serve as more fuel for the fire.
Keep kettles, skillets, and other appliances unplugged if you are not using them. Periodically examine your cooking utensils, toaster oven, or even your coffee maker to be sure that the wires do not have signs of wear or tear. Monitor at your devices to make sure that they’re not overheating.
If you use matches, make sure that your children understand that matches are not toys, and keep the matches out of their reach.
How to Put out Kitchen Fire
Regardless of how safe you are, at one time or another something is going to catch fire in the kitchen. Instead of panicking, you need to have clear in mind the steps needed to put out a kitchen fire.
Avoid the instinct to throw water or flour on a grease fire. This will only make matters worse. If a pan catches on fire, first turn off the stove. Then use a lid or a larger pot to smother the flames. Without oxygen, the fire will die. Make sure to protect your hands by using a dishtowel, a glove, or another form of hand protection.
Resist the urge to grab a flaming pan and move it to another location. The contents can spill and burn you, or they can spill and cause the fire to spread.
If the fire starts in the oven, turn the oven off and keep the door closed. If necessary, use a dry chemical fire extinguisher to extinguish the flames. A fire extinguisher of this type should be mounted near the exit of the kitchen.
If the fire gets out of control, your priority goes from trying to stop the fire to trying to protect yourself and your family. Evacuate immediately and contact emergency services by dialing 911.
Ways to Avoid Fire in the Kitchen
By taking a few precautions, you can minimize the chance of a fire starting in your kitchen. If you have long hair, put it in a bun or put it in a hairnet. Use short sleeve shirts, or roll up long sleeves. Do not cook while wearing loose jewelry, and make sure that your footwear is slip resistant.
Do a simple safety check of your oven before you use it. If you smell gas before you turn the stove on, open a window and leave the room.
Make sure that the pots and pans you use are the correct size for your burners. You would never want to use one that is too big or one that is too small. Never leave an empty pan on a hot burner. When possible, use the back burners as opposed to the front ones.
Pay attention to where you place cooking utensils, cooking mitts, as well as cooking ingredients like sugar or flour as these could be potential combustibles.
Why You Need a Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors are a crucial part of early fire detection. Smoke will travel through your home a lot faster than flames. Smoke causes more deaths in residential fires than actual flames do. For this reason alone, the early detection provided by a smoke detector is lifesaving.
Statistics show that the majority of residential fires and the majority of deaths associated with residential fires happen between 11 PM and 7 AM, which is while residents are sleeping. Without a smoke detector to wake you up, you may succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning or smoke inhalation and literally die in your sleep.
Once a fire starts, you have approximately two minutes to get out of the house. A smoke detector will provide you with the warning you need to get you and your family to safety.
Most kitchen fires can be avoided. Small kitchen fires can usually be extinguished. Families can escape larger kitchen fires with the advanced warning provided by having a high quality smoke detector installed in the home.