This year has brought significant changes to the way we work and live. With more people spending more time at home, our daily habits have changed. Fewer dinners out at restaurants means more time in the kitchen cooking. And while it’s wonderful that families are spending time together making meals (and memories), it has led to a 62% increase in cooking or smoking-related fire claims compared to last year – according to recent claim data by Allstate Canada.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to help prevent fires from starting in the kitchen. The first step is being aware and recognizing safety hazards, so you can help keep your family safe.
Here are some simple steps you can take to help avoid kitchen fires:
- Read the owner’s manual for all your cooking appliances including stove tops and deep fryers to ensure you understand how they work and follow recommended safety instructions.
- Never leave stove top cooking unattended. If you must step away from the kitchen for even just a moment, be sure to turn the stove off and move the item off the burner. Don’t leave the house if you have something in the oven.
- Keep your cooking area clear of flammable items such as paper towels and dish towels.
- Make sure your oven and cooking surfaces are kept clean of dried food and grease.
- Clean the stove hood exhaust at least three times a year.
- Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing, scarves, or ties when cooking, as they can catch on pot handles or dangle over stove burners.
- Turn pot handles inwards to keep pots from accidentally overturning and to prevent children from touching them.
- Be sure to keep a large pot lid close by every time you’re cooking to help smoother potential fires.
- Keep children and pets out of your cooking zone (at least one metre from the stove).
- Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area and make sure it’s tested annually. Have it replaced or refilled every six years.
- Install good smoke detectors on every floor of your home and be sure to clean, test, and replace their batteries on a regular basis (we recommend twice a year).
- Never use turkey fryers indoors (including garages and sheds) and keep them away from decks and anything else that can catch fire.
- Educate all family members on fire safety and have a fire evacuation plan ready and tested in case of an emergency.
In the event of a kitchen grease fire:
- NEVER use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Water will make the flames spread.
- Turn off the heat source and then smother flames by completely covering the pan or deep fryer with a large metal lid, flat tray, cooking sheet, or a wet (but not dripping) towel.
- Do not pick up the pan in which the fire started as this can make the flames worse and cause severe burns to the skin.
A special note on deep fryers:
Deep fryers have been responsible for many burns from hot oil and fire damage, yet, many people still swear by them. If you are going to use one, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Keep the fryer on a level surface to avoid accidental tipping.
- Never leave deep fryers unattended.
- Fully defrost the items you are deep frying first. Never put a partially frozen item into hot oil, as ice and water can cause the oil to spill over and catch fire.
- Make sure to have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
Other tips to help keep your kitchen accident-free
- Unplug small appliances, such as toasters and blenders, when they’re not in use.
- Don’t leave cords hanging for people to trip over.
By taking some simple precautions in the kitchen before you get cooking, you can help ensure the only thing you have to put out, is dinner.