Kitchen fires, why so common and what can I do?

In the United States cooking is the most common cause of fire. Most municipalities report the kitchen as the leading room of origin. We often cook on mental automatic; not paying attention to the task at hand, multi-tasking, cooking while sleepy, or hindered by alcohol or medication.  Children are doing homework, the television is running, laundry and other tasks take our attention away for a moment. What ever the distraction; a stovetop fire can occur in an instant.  Most resident involved in kitchen fires say something on the line of…”I don’t know what happened.  I looked a way for a moment.”   Here are some simple tips to help keep you and your family safe.

Alway stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop.

Keep the stovetop clean. No grease, or flammable items on burner area. Keep cloth pot holders and dish towels off the stovetop.  Also clean the pans beneath the burners. They do collect oils, grease and burnt food. This can all catch fire.

Never store a pot of oil on the back burner. (A la Grandma’s infamous cast iron pot of used oil, saved for the next time). It too, can accidentally catch fire.

Always stay in the home while cooking in the oven.  If you must leave for a short time, turn the oven off and resume when you return.

Keep a 3 ft. rule.  The rule is keep a kid and pet-free zone around the range and oven when cooking. Little hands and puppy dog tails, can get injured or cause a trip hazard, to the cook.

Keep  a cookie sheet, tight fitting fitting lid, or better yet, a fire extinguisher handy.

If there is a fire in a pot DO NOT 1.  Move the pot. Remember you have flaming liquid and it may spill.   DO NOT 2. Pour water on the pot.  Remember water and oil do not mix.  As the water sinks into the oil it expands converting into steam at a rate of 1603:1.  It creates a volcanic looking effet.  This can throw hot flaming grease on you, or rapidly spread the fire.

Recommended Actions to take include, call 9-1-1 first and sound the alarm so every one knows knows to evacuate. You should already have an escape plan, everyone from oldest to youngest knows where to meet outside the home. If you can safely extinguish the fire use your handy fire extinguisher.  Remember: pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.  Pull the pin. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire (that which is burning) squeeze the handle and sweep the chemical back and forth across the base of the fire.  Then evacuate the kitchen and  close the door!

Let the firefighters check to be sure the fire is out.