According to the most recent figures from the Council of Canadian Fire Marshalls and Fire Commissioners, home fires accounted for 30 per cent of all fires in Canada, and cooking is the leading cause of home fires. While home insurance covers damage to your property, it cannot recover your favourite belongings, family photos, or other lost mementos, and it certainly can’t replace a lost life. Prevention is your best safeguard against fires.
Here are some simple precautions 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 two times a year).
- Never use turkey fryers indoors (including garages and other structures) 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, however, many people swear by them. So if you are going to use one, please 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 the 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.
Before you light the burner or preheat the oven for your next meal, think about safety since the kitchen is where most house fires start.