National Fire Prevention Week 2020 - Kitchen Safety
The theme of the 2020 National Fire Prevention Week is kitchen safety--and this theme was chosen for a good reason: cooking is the leading cause of residential fires in the United States.
From 2016 to 2018, kitchen fires were responsible for around 189,300 cooking fires, which lead to over 3,000 injuries, 170 deaths and over $400 million dollars in property loss.
What can you do to prevent kitchen fires?
What should you do if a kitchen fire occurs in your home?
These are thought provoking questions and certainly something you need to think about and plan for before a fire occurs in your kitchen.
Danger of Fires in the Kitchen
Cooking and cooking related activities are the leading cause of residential fires. In addition to the statistics mentioned above, it is important to know what types of cooking lead to fires more frequently than others.
Unattended Cooking is Leading Cause of Residential Kitchen Fires
Unattended cooking is very common, particularly for parents or people who are trying to multi-task while making food in the kitchen. Unattended cooking often occurs in two ways:
- Leaving something in the oven and forgetting about it
- Leaving something cooking on the kitchen range or stove top.
- Forgetting to turn off the oven or the stove top after cooking is completed.
Frying Food is a Leading Cause of Residential Kitchen Fires
When you take fire & heat and combine it with grease that can be a recipe for disaster. While we all love fried foods of one kind or another, it is very likely that we’ll be using this method of cooking at one time or another.
Grease or oil is an increased fire hazard which only gets more dangerous when combined with high heat cooking. The hotter grease or oil gets, the higher the chance that it will catch fire.
What To Do In Case of a Kitchen Fire
Quick action is essential when dealing with any kitchen fire. No matter where a fire occurs, it can spread quickly. Though there are many factors that play into the acceleration and intensity of a fire, acting quickly and correctly can help mitigate the damage.
First, you need to quickly determine what type of fire has occurred. The type of material fueling the fire is critical to know so you can use the proper extinguishing agent.
If it is a small grease fire, such as oil in a pan catching fire, then you may be able to take immediate action to smother the fire.
You should always keep an oven mitt and the pot or pan lid nearby so if oil or grease catches fire, quickly put the lid back on the pot or pan. Turn off the heat. Do not uncover the pan until it is completely cooled.
NEVER throw water on an oil fire!
Note: Around half of injuries in residential fires occur in someone who attempted to fight the fire on their own. Only take this action for small fires that you feel safe attempting to smother.
If the fire occurs inside a closed oven, immediately turn off the heat and do NOT open the oven door.
Opening the door will add oxygen to the fire, increasing its spread.
Likewise, if a fire occurs inside a microwave oven, unplug the microwave (if possible) or turn it off using the buttons. You should avoid pressing the buttons with your bare fingers in case the panel is heated.
If putting a lid over an oil or grease fire does not readily smother the fire or the fire is already too big or if you simply do not feel safe trying to put out the fire yourself - get everyone out of your home immediately and call the fire department once you are outside.
Fire Prevention Kitchen Safety Tips
Prevention is the best way to avoid injuries, deaths and damage from kitchen fires.
Keep your kitchen clean
Certain types of spills and debris build-up can contribute to or exacerbate fires, such as oil and grease spills, crumbs inside ovens or toasters, as well as grease build-up above the stove.
Unplug appliances if you're not using them
Small electric appliances such as coffee pots, toasters, blenders, etc, still use electricity even if they're not actively being used. This can cause old wiring to become heated, increasing the chances for fires. You can lighten the load in your electrical wires by unplugging small appliances when not in use.
Keep flammable items away from the stove
Before you start cooking, make sure that items such as wooden utensils, dish towels, pot holders, paper towels, etc, are kept away from the stove. Do not store decorative objects near the stove; a good rule of thumb is to keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away from the stove.
Wear appropriate clothing
You should also wear proper clothing when cooking: roll up long sleeves and never wear any draping clothing, such as long, flowing sleeves or highly flammable fabrics. If you have long hair, keep it in a ponytail or bun so that it won’t be in danger of catching fire.
Do not leave the stove top unattended
Never leave the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or boiling something on the stove. It is very easy--and quick--for fires to start when grilling, frying or boiling on the stove top. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn off the burners before leaving.
Regularly check the oven
If you are cooking something in the oven on medium or lower heat, make sure you regularly check the oven and do not let yourself get distracted by electronics or errands around the house. You can set a timer to go off at regular intervals to remind you to check on the oven. If you are cooking food at higher temperatures in the oven, stay within close range of the kitchen.
Keep children 3 feet away from the stove during cooking
If possible, make kitchen a “no go” zone during cooking. If children do need to come into the kitchen, make sure they are 3 feet away from the stove at all times. Most of the injuries children receive in the kitchen occur when they grab hot pans or are splattered by oil.
Kitchen fires are the most common causes of residential fires in the United States. With the above prevention information and tips in mind, you will be able to keep yourself--and your family--safer in the kitchen.
If the unthinkable does happen and you suffer damage from a fire in your home, your friends and neighbors at SERVPRO of Belfast/Camden/Rockland are here to help.
You can reach us 24/7 at 207-338-1850.