As we all find ourselves at home and cooking more, we have seen an increase in kitchen fires given the pandemic.
This commentary will discuss some safety measures you can take to help prevent a home cooking fire. My sources for this information is the National Fire Prevention Association Home “Cooking Fires and Home Structure Fire” reports.
Here’s what you should know about home cooking safety.
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
Here are some safety considerations for cooking with oil.
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a dangerous sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
- Get everyone out of your home if the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan. Call the fire department from outside.
Here’s what to do if you have a cooking fire.
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Here are some cooking fire facts.
- Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, causing 49% of home fires that resulted in 21% of the home fire deaths and 44% of injuries.
- Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Clothing ignites first in less than 1% of these fires, but clothing ignitions lead to 8% of the deaths from home cooking equipment.
- Ranges or cooktops account for three-fifths (61%) of home cooking fire incidents.
- Unattended equipment is a factor in one-third (31%) of reported home cooking fires and more than half (53%) of the associated deaths.
- Frying dominates the cooking fire problem.
- Have an extinguisher in the kitchen. Do not use the “red” A, B, C extinguisher for a grease or cooking oil fire. You can use an extinguisher made for “Kitchen” fires. Fire extinguishers designated for grease or cooking oil fires are labeled as A, B, C and K extinguishers.
Please remain safe and alert.
Editor’s Note: Kenny Kovac is Sun City Fire and Medical Department assistant fire marshal.