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Kitchen Safety – Preventing Cooking Fires

This month let’s review common causes of kitchen fires and review the safety measures to prevent these fires: Do we take the dog for a walk and leave the oven on? Do we get caught up with a task and forget to keep an eye on the stove? Are the beautiful cotton hand crafted oven mitts left lying next to the stove safe?

These examples represent a combustible fuel – the food in the oven and pot, the cotton oven mitts- which, if in contact with sufficient heat and oxygen in the air can catch fire. The combustible food is not limited to the food you are cooking. Previous food left on range top, oven or burners can cause a fire. Other examples of combustible fuel for a fire could be dish towels, paper towels, and plastic utensils that can ignite causing a fire.

Consider this Safety Tip:

  • Do not leave food or anything that can ignite, causing a fire on the stove, in the oven, or on the grill unattended. If you need to leave the kitchen while cooking, turn off the heat source. Timers are a good tool to remind you at intervals to check on what you are cooking and notifying you when the food is done.

Consider this Safety Tip:

  • Maintain and enforce a three-foot child free zone around the kitchen for children and pets.
  • It is safest to use a back burner, if possible, when It is also safer to turn the handle of a pan away from the edge of a stove.

Consider this Safety Tip:

You are entertaining and had a bit more alcohol than you are used to. Or you are cooking and feel quite sleepy. Or you are sleepy from medication, or lack of sleep for any reason.

The safety measure in this case:

  • Cooking safety, like all safety measures requires being If you are not alert do not cook.

Cooking fires can occur for many reasons. In the event of a fire assess the situation. Are you able to safely put the fire out? If for any reason you the answer is anything but “yes” call the fire department.

DHFD March 2023

Consider these Safety Tips:   IF you feel you safe are advised for a small, contained fire:

  • Extinguishing a fire means depriving the fire of oxygen, heat, and a combustible fuel source. Do you know where your extinguisher is located?
  • Never use water on grease fire as that will make the fire For grease fires, as well as gas burner fires, turn off the burner, and with caution, place a lid over the pan. This smothers the fire by depriving it of oxygen. Do not remove the lid until the pan is cool and thus heat source is gone, before introducing oxygen.
  • Common kitchen supplies that may help douse a small grease fire: Baking soda in very large quantities when heated causes carbon dioxide to be released and thus smothers a fire. Salt in large quantities forms a barrier between fire and air which has oxygen and thus oxygen deprivation can help put out a fire. These are to be used only when a small fire is contained in the pan.

NOTE: do not assume that all powdered kitchen supplies will help put out a fire. Some in fact can worsen a fire. Baking powder and flour for instance, can cause an explosion if they are exposed to extreme heat.

  • Never throw hot grease in the
DHFD March 2023 1

Some additional safety issues to be considered to prevent burns:

  • For prevention of burns: When cooking, avoid clothing that may encounter flames. Specifically, sleeves should be tightly rolled up, or wear short
  • Use fireproof Do not leave anything flammable near the stove.
  • Place pots on back burners when Keep pot handles turned away from the edge of the stove.
  • Immediate first aid for a burn has been shown to decrease the size and depth of the burn, degree of pain and overall Remove any clothing and jewelry around the burn. Jewelry in the burn area may continue to burn and should be removed. Run running cool water for 10 minutes, by applying a clean dry cloth.
  • Severe burns, usually accompanied by moderate to severe pain and blistering or charring of skin, or encompassing a large area of burn, require immediate medical attention and 911 should be called.

Microwaves deserve mention as a kitchen appliance that may catch fire.

microwave safe symbol

Consider these Safety measures for microwaves:

  • Microwaves should not be plugged into an extension cord as they can overload the circuit creating a fire risk. Plug microwaves waves into an outlet.
  • There is a list of items both edible and non-edible foods that can explode in the microwave. A You Tube video is attached mentioning these articles.
  • Like ovens, in the event of a microwave fire, turn of the microwave and keep the microwave door closed.

What NOT to use in the Microwave Video:

Consider these Gold Standard Fire Safety Tips:

  • Functional smoke alarms: Check the batteries Locate alarms in all sleep areas and outside each sleep area at every level of the home.
  • Functional fire extinguishers that each member of the household knows how to
  • Fire Escape plan that all residents of the home are aware
  • Do not attempt to control a fire that is large, spreading rapidly and that you are not comfortable you can extinguish. Do not hesitate to call 911. The quicker a fire is extinguished the less chance of injury or death or property damage.
  • For more information on fire safety organizations dedicated to Fire Safety include NFPA, FEMA, CDC, AND

Drexel Heights Fire is always ready to answer questions concerning fire safety.

In the words of “anonymous“ and appropriate to kitchen safety:

“Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent.”