The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Here are a few tips to keep you and your home safe while cooking:
- Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens, or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders as they can cause scald burns. Remember to keep combustibles like potholders and paper towels away from the stove.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle and catch fire if it comes into contact with a stove burner.
- Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet and never use an extension cord since it will overload the circuit and cause a fire.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food and if you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are baking, roasting or boiling food, use a timer to remind you to check it.
- Never use an oven to heat your home or for any other purpose besides cooking.
- Turn pot handles away from the stove's edge to prevent the pan from being knocked or pulled off the stove.
- Treat a burn right away by putting it in cool water for 3 to 5 minutes. Seek medical attention immediately if you have any questions about how to treat the burn.
- If your smoke detectors sound during normal cooking, after quickly making sure there is no fire, fan the area around the detector with a towel to clear smoke away from the detector. Don't ever disable the detector when receiving nuisance alarms. Consider moving the detector further away from the stove if possible, but always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
How to Fight Cooking Fires
- If you are in doubt, leave the building immediately. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 after you leave.
- If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
- Always keep a metal lid and an oven mitt nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put the oven mitt on and very carefully slide the lid over the pan in order to smother the flames. Turn off the burner, and by all means, DON'T move the pan or remove the lid until it is completely cool in order to keep the fire from restarting.
- In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
- If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance only if you can safely reach the outlet.
- After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.
Microwave Oven Safety
- Microwave ovens should be at a safe height and within easy reach of all users to prevent hot foods and liquids from spilling onto the user.
- Plug microwave ovens directly into an outlet and never use an extension cord since it will overload the circuit and cause a fire.
- Never put any type of metal or unapproved container in a microwave oven. Food should only be cooked in microwave safe dishes. If you aren't sure, don't take a chance.
- Remember to slowly open heated food containers away from your skin to avoid steam burns.
- Since foods often heat unevenly in microwave ovens, make sure you stir and test the food before serving.
Outdoor Grilling Tips
- Grills should be placed well away from houses, bushes and other objects.
- Grills should never be used indoors or inside an unventilated area, as doing so would be both a carbon monoxide poisoning risk and a fire hazard.
- When grilling over charcoal, only use starter fluid developed specifically for barbecue grills.
- Before starting a gas grill, confirm that the link between the propane tank and the fuel line is operating correctly and not leaking. If a leak is suspected, turn off the gas immediately. Do not use the grill until the leak is fixed. Never use a match to hunt for leaks.
- Long-handled tools and barbeque mitts are good protection against contact burns.
- Children and pets should be kept away from the grill until the equipment has fully cooled.
Protecting Children in the Kitchen
- Teach children that hot things can burn them.
- Never hold a child while cooking, drinking or carrying hot foods or liquids.
- Establish and enforce a 3 foot child-free zone around the stove to keep children from being burned by hot foods and liquids. Also keep children 3 feet away from any place where hot foods and drinks are being carried or prepared.
- Remember to keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges to prevent children from reaching up and pulling them down onto themselves.
- When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely but always supervise them closely.
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