Seven safety tips to reduce all-too-common kitchen conflagrations
A doorbell rings; a child calls; an email chimes: Telling yourself it will just be a minute, you leave a hot stove to deal with these issues. It’s OK to leave your cooking going while addressing these everyday occurrences, right?
Think again: The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) says unattended cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires, and the latest statistics from nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that two of every five home fires started in the kitchen, with roughly 150,000 home fires a year directly related to cooking.
To help reduce these all-too-common kitchen conflagrations, both of these groups want you to remember a single safety message: “Stand by your pan!”
There really is no safe period of time to leave cooking unattended: A cooking fire can quickly turn destructive—or even deadly. Here are the NPFA’s seven key kitchen tips to keep in mind:
- Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended and keep a close eye on food cooking in an oven.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles like potholders, towels, rags, drapes, and food packaging.
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a 3-foot kid-free zone around the stove.
- Never use a wet oven mitt, which presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt, or lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, use a mitt or potholder to carefully slide the lid over the pan to smother flames, then turn off the burner and wait for the lid to completely cool before removing.
- Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire because it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen and spread the fire.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave.
Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board professionals are always happy to help you with safety improvements for your home or business: There even is a licensed California contracting specialty for fire-protection contractors. For more information on these professionals and to find a licensed contractor near you, visit cslb.ca.gov.