Look, we get it. Cooking can be stressful enough without worrying about potential fire hazards in your own kitchen. But the truth is, the kitchen is one of the most common areas for home fires to start. And while the vast majority of kitchen fires are minor and contained, some can rage out of control and cause severe damage or injury.
As much as we all love cooking and baking, it’s just not worth the risk of endangering yourself, your loved ones, or your home. Practicing basic fire safety measures in the kitchen is absolutely crucial. So do yourself and everyone around you a favor – take a few minutes to ensure you’re cooking safely and responsibly. Your kitchen, your home, and your peace of mind will thank you.
Ensure Adequate Ventilation While Cooking
Adequate ventilation is key for fire safety while cooking in the kitchen. Without it, heat and smoke can build up, increasing the risks of a grease fire or smoke inhalation.
First, make sure your exhaust fan is on and working properly before cooking anything on the stovetop, especially if you’re searing meat or frying foods. Run the fan for at least 10-15 minutes after you finish cooking to clear the air. If you don’t have an overhead exhaust fan, open some windows to improve circulation.
It’s also a good idea to avoid blocking fire sprinklers or smoke detectors with decorations, cabinets or ceiling fans. Test your smoke alarms monthly to ensure they are functioning. Replace the batteries every 6-12 months or if you notice a chirping sound.
Never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking. Stay nearby in case a fire starts so you can extinguish it quickly with a fire extinguisher – aim at the base of the flames, not the oil. Baking soda can also help smother grease fires.
- Keep a lid nearby to cover and smother any pan fires.
- Avoid loose fitting clothing, towels and potholders that could catch fire easily.
- Keep a fire blanket or extinguisher with a rating of at least 2A:10BC handy in an easy-to-reach spot.
- Double check that all burners and ovens are turned off when cooking is done.
- Clean your exhaust fans, filters, stovetops and ovens regularly to prevent grease buildup.
- Never use water on a grease fire – it will only spread the flames!
Taking some basic precautions and being vigilant about fire safety in the kitchen can help ensure your cooking doesn’t go up in smoke. Stay safe!
Keep a Fire Extinguisher Handy
A kitchen fire can start in the blink of an eye, so you’ll want to be prepared. Keep a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires easily accessible in your kitchen at all times.
Look for a fire extinguisher clearly marked for commercial kitchen use that contains dry chemical powder, specifically sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. These are very effective at smothering grease fires. A standard ABC extinguisher can work for small grease fires, but a commercial kitchen extinguisher is your best choice.
Check the gage to ensure your extinguisher is fully charged and hasn’t expired. Get in the habit of giving it a quick once-over every month or so to make sure it’s ready to go in an emergency. You never know when you might need it!
If a grease fire does break out in your kitchen, act fast but stay calm. Never use water to put out a grease fire, as it will only spread the flames. Remember the PASS method:
Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher to unlock the handle.
Aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
Sweep the extinguisher from side to side at the base of the fire until it is fully extinguished.
Once the fire is out, turn off the stove and ventilation fan and keep the extinguisher aimed at the area in case of re-ignition. Call the fire department if there is any damage or if the fire spreads.
Better safe than sorry. Keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and knowing how to properly use it in an emergency could save your home and lives. Make fire safety in the kitchen a top priority for you and your family.
Never Leave the Stove Unattended
Never leave the stove unattended. While cooking, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the stove top at all times. Leaving the kitchen, even for a short time, can have disastrous consequences.
Keep a Lid and Fire Extinguisher Handy
Have a lid for each pot and pan ready to slide over the top to quickly smother any grease or oil fires that may occur. Keep a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires easily accessible, like under the sink or on the countertop. These tools will allow you to immediately suppress the fire before the situation gets out of control if a fire were to start on the stovetop.
Turn Pot and Pan Handles Inward
Turn all pot and pan handles inward, toward the stove, when cooking. This makes them less likely to be bumped or grabbed accidentally, which could cause spills, splatters, or burns. It also reduces the chance of someone walking by and knocking over a pot full of hot liquid or food.
###Keep Oven Mitts and Potholders Off the Stove
Never leave oven mitts, towels, or potholders on the stovetop, oven door handle or dials. As the stovetop and oven heat up, these items can also become extremely hot, creating a fire hazard. They may also accidentally get knocked into open burners, pots or pans, igniting a fire.
Teach Kids Fire Safety
If you have children in the home, start teaching them fire safety in the kitchen at an early age. Show them how and why to never touch the stovetop, oven or any pots and pans when the stove is in use. Explain that some surfaces may still remain hot even after the stove has been turned off. Kids should keep a safe distance from the stove when someone else is cooking. These lessons could save lives.
Constant vigilance and quick thinking in case of a stovetop fire can help prevent a dangerous situation from becoming a tragic one. Staying in the kitchen and keeping safety tools at the ready while cooking are two of the simplest but most effective ways to practice fire safety and protect your home and loved ones.
Keep Flammable Objects Away From the Stove
Keeping flammable objects away from the stove is crucial for fire safety in the kitchen. As tempting as it may be to keep pot holders, wooden spoons or paper towels within easy reach, it’s just not worth the risk.
\n\n###Keep a Clear Zone
Designate a 2 to 3 foot “clear zone” around your stovetop and oven, keeping the area free of anything that could potentially catch fire. This includes potholders, oven mitts, paper towels, curtains, dish towels, and appliance cords.
Instead, keep a metal or ceramic spoon rest off to the side for wooden spoons and spatulas. Store potholders, oven mitts, and towels in a cabinet or drawer when not in use. Make sure any appliance cords, like those of a toaster or mixer, do not dangle over the stovetop or heating elements.
\n\n###Watch What You’re Heating
Never leave anything heating on the stovetop unattended, especially grease, oil or butter. Their high fat content means they can reach their flashpoint and ignite quickly. Stay in the kitchen when browning meat, making popcorn or melting wax or plastic.
Keep a lid handy to smother flames in case of fire, and never use water on a grease fire. Have a fire extinguisher rated for grease fires easily accessible. Make it a habit to turn pot and pan handles inward over the stovetop, so they cannot be grabbed by curious children or bumped accidentally.
\n\n###Take Extra Care with Ovens
Never leave the oven unattended when baking or broiling. Check on your food frequently to make sure it’s not burning. Keep oven mitts, potholders, wooden spoons and other tools off the stovetop, as the handles can get hot enough to ignite when left near a hot oven.
Double check that oven racks are securely in place before turning on the oven. Make sure any oven cords do not dangle down and touch heating elements. Keep a close eye on plastic or paper items in the oven like bags, liners or packaging which can melt or ignite at high temperatures. By following these tips, you’ll ensure fire safety in the kitchen and prevent potential disasters before they happen. Practice safe cooking habits and keep a clear zone around heating appliances—your home and loved ones will thank you!
You’ve learned why practicing fire safety in the kitchen is so important. While cooking accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, taking a few precautions can help ensure you and your loved ones stay safe. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, create clear paths to exits, never leave the stove or oven unattended, and avoid loose sleeves or dangling cords that can easily catch fire.
Your home is where you create memories with friends and family, so do your part to prevent dangerous kitchen fires. Staying vigilant about fire safety may feel like an inconvenience at times, but peace of mind that you’ve done your best to protect your home is worth it. The next time you preheat the oven or turn on the stovetop, take an extra moment to double check that safety measures are in place. Your home and loved ones will thank you for it.