Kitchens: Your Biggest Fire Hazard
Fire Safety Checklist
One of the most common causes of residential fires is unattended cooking. The National Fire Protection Association has statistics showing that 40% of all house fires are caused by cooking related incidents.
Even children can get involved in fire prevention so during some of your family meetings address cooking fires. Make sure every member of the household knows that it is imperative that they be in the kitchen when the stove top is on. If they need to leave, even for a moment, they need to turn off the burner until they return. Almost three times more fires occur on Thanksgiving day than any other day of the year, illustrating how dangerous it is to be cooking while distracted. Many of these fires are grease fires when cooking oil gets too hot. Cooking oil combusts at 700 degrees Farenheit. Many burners get much higher than this.Never throw water on a grease fire, rather always keep a pan lid or baking sheet ready to put over the fire to smother it and turn off the heat source. Look into Kovenex fire-fighting blankets. They have one sized just for stove-top fires.
If you have electric coil stove top elements, a great way to reduce your chance of stove top fire is to outfit your stove top with the Safe-T-element®. (These not only reduce your chance of fire, but reduce your electricity usage as well, meaning that depending on the amount you use your stove top these will eventually pay for themselves!)
Also, do not use the stove top for storage of any items and do not store combustible materials anywhere near the stove. Even your metal pots and pans can start to smoke and melt if left on an accidentally turned on burner for a length of time. Make sure nothing is on the stove top even if all the burners are off and the oven is on. The oven temperature can heat up the stove top and ignite combustibles. For additional safety look into StoveTop FireStops which dump a fire-suppressing powder onto the stove top when flames reach high enough to alert the device.
Many of us have electrical appliances in our kitchen ranging from large ones like refrigerators and freezers, down to hand-held mixers and food processors. Unplug and move your refrigerator, your freezer, and oven and vacuum underneath and behind them once a year to remove dust and pet hair. Check the cord and outlet at this time. If the cord is frayed or split, or you see burn marks on the outlet, they can be a danger. Replace the outlet or the cord or replace the appliance. If the device smells strange, makes a spark or gives you a shock, no matter how slight, do not use it. The insulation on the internal wiring could be deteriorating. All it takes is one spark to light your kitchen aflame. It is not worth it!
While we’re talking about kitchen dangers, let’s mention the Outdoor Barbecue. Your outdoor grill should also never be left unattended. Situate it outside so that it is not near flammables while in use. Also be aware that damp coal can spontaneously combust. Always keep it stored in a cool, dry place away from any combustible materials. A metal pail or metal garbage can with a lid, kept away from the side of the house and away from anything that could ignite, is ideal.