I am not a pyro.
But I have caught a lot of things on fire in the kitchen. Outright ignition of food, towels and potholders while cooking. Really. Flames.
Not just burned popcorn in the microwave, or smoke from a forgotten French fry in the oven. (I hate that)
I’m a little ADD. I also cook while tired and distracted. Who doesn’t?
So, yes, I know a little about kitchen fires. Not only that, but I raised boys, so I know about things that smoke, burn, explode, or just smell bad.
Kitchen fires are scary and move fast. They cause 46% of all home fires, 1 out of 5 home fire deaths and almost half of all home fire injuries, according to the NFPA. Well over half of those were stove top fires involving frying. How can you prevent this from happening to you?
Read on for my top six fire prevention tips, learned through experience.
Don’t Leave The Kitchen
This is the big one. It’ll save your food, and maybe your life.
Pay attention to the stove. If something goes wrong you can get it under control before it becomes a major threat. Use the time for cleanup. If you do have to leave the room, turn down the burner, or take the pan off the stove. Nature does call, I know.
A Stove is not a Counter
Things like cutting boards, towels, and potholders will burn. Dishes crack, break, or even explode. I know, it’s hard in a small kitchen, but be very mindful.
Dump the Clutter
When your work surface is crowded, things get spilled, broken, or knocked over, sometimes flammable things.
Towels, Potholders and Curtains Catch Fire Easily
I had the habit of hanging towels from my stove handle, but don’t. Fold them over the cabinet door below your sink if you want to keep a dry towel handy and out of the way.
Long curtains in the kitchen near the cooking area may look cute, but they’re grease catchers, which makes them highly flammable. Keep your curtains short and out of the way. By the way, blinds start out looking cute, but the grease in the kitchen air makes them a nightmare to keep clean.
Clean Grease and Spills
Grease or spills can build up under burners and the bottom of the oven, providing explosive fuel for a fire. Make wiping up a part of your dishwashing habit when the stove has cooled. They may not ignite by themselves, but they’ll fuel a fire.
Electric kitchen stoves with coil burners have tops that lift up to make cleaning easy. It can get scary under there, so check often. Lining it with a sheet of foil can help make cleanup easy. Not over-filling or boiling over pots works better.
Lining the bottom of the oven with foil can make cleanup a snap. Also, make a practice of putting a cookie sheet below whatever you’re baking. Sugary pie filling or cheese from a pizza does catch fire easily. Just saying. Not confirming or denying anything here …. Just saying.
Check Inside The Oven
Not only are you checking for forgotten fries, but also pots and utensils. Plastic utensils can melt and make a mess, toxic smoke, and even catch fire.
Here’s a video from a fire department demonstration given a few years back that highlights our first rule, Don’t Leave The Kitchen.
With these 6 tips you’re well on your way to staying safe in the kitchen. Next we’ll talk about how to get a small fire under control quickly and safely.
Do you have any more tips to share, or your own scary story? Please leave a comment.