Safe Cooking: Preventing Kitchen Fires and Injuries

Distracted cooking

Basic cooking abilities are a necessary life skill, but unless you are a professional chef or a seasoned cook, you might not realize that home cooking comes with some risks. In fact, cooking is the leading cause of home fires because oils, high temperatures, and open flames are a recipe for disaster without proper precautions and awareness. In order to minimize burn injuries and limit potential damage to appliances, consider these safety tips:

Be Alert and Be Present

When cooking in your kitchen, avoid being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or even preparing a meal when you so tired you cannot think straight. You need to be aware of your actions to avoid injuries. Furthermore, unattended cooking is the greatest cause for kitchen fires so keeping an active watch on your foods can mitigate the risk. If the recipe calls for frying, grilling or boiling, it is important to stay in the kitchen. Should you need to leave the kitchen for any length of time, turn the heat way down or better yet, turn the heat completely off. Get into the habit of setting a timer and regularly checking on food to ensure it does not get burned or overdone. The more alert and attentive you are, the less likely an accident will happen.

Clean and Clear

Always keep the stovetop and any other heating element like a toaster or an electrical skillet clean and clear of flammable substances like oils, food residue, potholders, towels, napkins, etc. If the idea of cleaning your kitchen makes you cringe, try to make the task more enjoyable by purchasing a new cleaning tool and buying a product with a scent you enjoy. Cleaning is an important life skill for good health and home safety. Also, if your stove’s power knobs are out front where they can be easily bumped, you will need to be extra cautious about accidentally activating the heating element. Tidying up after every meal is a good way to prevent kitchen fires because anything can catch fire in a messy kitchen!

Appliance Safety

Your kitchen appliances need regular inspections and servicing. Regularly inspect power cords, promptly replacing any cord or appliance that has signs of cord damage to avoid sparks or fires. Also, rather than cluttering your countertops with small appliances like a toaster, blender, coffee pot, etc. consider unplugging, cleaning and storing them in a cabinet after each use. Doing this will help keep your small appliances fully operational and free from build-up. Remember, appliances must be plugged directly into the wall outlet, not through an extension cord. To keep appliances in optimal condition, have them serviced annually, especially if they are still under warranty.

Personal Safety

To keep you and your loved ones safe, keep hair pulled back and wear fitted clothes to minimize personal risk. It is also a good idea to keep children and pets out of the kitchen as tripping, pushing and grabbing can lead to frustration and injuries. In these instances, enforce a three-foot “no-go zone” around the stove. Also, always make sure pot and pan handles are turned inward and away from an edge so hot contents are not easily spilled, resulting in burns or other injuries.

General Safety Tips

  • Don’t overfill pots and pans, especially with grease or oil.
  • Don’t ever put metal/foil in a microwave.
  • Don’t leave candles or open flame unattended.
  • Don’t throw water on a grease fire; have a fire extinguisher, and a large metal lid or baking soda handy to smother a grease fire.
  • Use caution when igniting a pilot light or flame.
  • Become comfortable with any unfamiliar kitchen appliance.
  • Keep smoke detectors operational.

The best place to cook is in a clean and safe kitchen!

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