In a kitchen, you’re working with heat. A few wrong moves or a dish left unattended can easily fire in seconds. It certainly doesn’t take long for a fire to engulf your kitchen, putting yourself and your loved ones in danger.
Kitchen fires can be prevented by following the right fire safety protocols. In addition, it helps being prepared for the worst-case scenario. When you have a fire safety plan, your preparedness will prevent a fire from becoming a full-on inferno that you can’t put out.
Let’s learn the basics behind how to prevent kitchen fires:
1. Install Smoke Detectors
Have smoke alarms in your kitchen and make sure they are ready to work. Ideally, it’ll also be a UL-rated carbon monoxide detector and properly maintained. Check your smoke detectors every month to verify that it still works and replace it once every ten years. Although smoke alarms won’t prevent a fire, they will alert you and others when something’s wrong.
2. Keep the Kitchen Clean
A clean kitchen will not only reduce clutter but remove possible flammable items or areas. A greasy coating across the counter, cabinets, or equipment can help a fire spread faster than it would otherwise. The average kitchen fire grows out of control in 45 seconds or less. A fire can spread far more rapidly in a greasy, unclean kitchen. By a routine, be sure to give your kitchen a thorough wash.
3. Don’t Leave The Stove Unattended
If you are cooking something on the stove, you shouldn’t leave it unattended at any moment during the cook. If something unexpected occurs, you want to be ready to calm the flames and/or notify the authorities. That said, most conditions that would lead to a kitchen fire are catchable if you’re watching.
4. Monitor Cook Temperatures
Cook temperatures are important. For example, oils have a smoke point. They also have a flashpoint to burst into blames when heated enough. The same thing can be said for many foods. If you leave them alone long enough or at a high enough temperature, they could catch fire. Under normal conditions, this shouldn’t happen.
5. Have A Fire Extinguisher At The Ready
Be ready to respond to a kitchen fire with a fire extinguisher. Check the dial to verify the fire extinguisher is still good if you’ve never used a fire extinguisher before. Pull the pin and clamp the handle. That’s it. So long that it’s still usable, a fire extinguisher will be able to efficiently put out many types of kitchen fires and allow you to calm the situation before the flames spread.
6. Know How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
To use a fire extinguisher, pull the pin, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the trigger, and sweep it side to side. Ideally, you want to be some 8-10 feet away from the fire when using a fire extinguisher. You do not have to be very close. Aiming at the base of the fire is also important. This is where the fire is coming from. You will eventually run out of what’s in the fire extinguisher. Maximize what you have by pointing it at the source. A 3-5 pound fire extinguisher only has 8-15 seconds of action. Aim at the source, not the flames.
7. Do Not Douse Fire with Water
Most kitchen fires are caused by grease or are around electrical appliances. You do not want to cover them in water as this will only cause harm and possibly aid in spreading the damage. Alternatively, smother them and deprive a fire of its oxygen. Cover fire with a baking sheet or dump baking soda over the flame. Baking soda is a sure way to extinguish a kitchen fire when you don’t have anything else around. Know where it is and ensure it’s easy to grab.
8. Keep Kids Out of the Kitchen
Kids have a way of doing things you might not always expect. Usually, there’s not a whole lot wrong with that. In the kitchen, though, you don’t want them reaching for pots and pans or accidentally knocking a knife to the floor, or turning the stove up. There are so many things that can go wrong when kids run around the kitchen. Do your best to leave the kitchen to the cook.
9. Don’t Have Flammable Items Around The Stove
Do not keep anything flammable near your stove. Avoid keeping fats or oils too close. Certainly, don’t have any substances or materials that are highly flammable above or immediately next to your stove or oven. Be careful not to put anything plastic there, either, as plastic can melt, and whatever’s being stored inside can pour or topple over, creating more hazards.
10. Don’t Wear Loose Clothing In The Kitchen
Hanging necklaces, excess fabric, and loose clothes increase the risk of accidentally pulling something off the stove or knocking over an item that could result in a fire. Loose clothing and kitchens are not a very good match. Not only could they cause a spill, but they restrict your movement, which will worsen your reaction time if there is a kitchen fire incident.