How to Prevent a Kitchen Fire

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You can help prevent a kitchen fire by regularly cleaning your oven. (Photo: @genna.contento via Twenty20)
The kitchen is one of the most important areas in the home. It’s where you cook your meals, work on family projects, and spend a lot of quality time with family and friends. With nearly 50% of home fires starting in the kitchen, being vigilant in this area is of the utmost importance. Luckily, you can take some steps to reduce the chances of a fire in your kitchen and elsewhere in your home.

Steps You Can Take to Avoid a Kitchen Fire

Step 1: Clean up your kitchen. Fire safety starts with you cleaning up your kitchen on a regular basis.
Grease buildup on the stovetop and other surfaces can easily catch on fire if exposed to a heat source.
The easiest way to keep a clean kitchen is to clean as you cook. This removes any grease or other spills before they can become a problem.
Step 2: Maintain your appliances. In addition to the stove and countertops, you should clean your appliances on a regular basis.
You should clean your oven, toaster, and microwave frequently to prevent grease buildup, which can lead to a fire.
In addition, you should inspect appliances regularly to ensure they still work properly.
Step 3: Unplug small appliances when you’re not using them. This helps prevent an unexpected fire, as many appliances still draw a current even when they’re turned off.
Step 4: Stay in the kitchen while cooking. While cooking, make sure to stay in the kitchen to monitor any pots or pans on an open flame or burner.
If you must leave, turn the burner off to prevent a boilover and possible fire.
It is okay to leave when you are baking, broiling, or simmering. Just make sure to set a timer so you know when food is done.
Step 5: Keep loose items of clothing away from flames. In addition, watch where you lay dish towels, oven mitts, and other kitchen items that can easily catch on fire if left on the stovetop when it is on.
Step 6: Avoid placing metal in the microwave. Do not place metal items in the microwave, including aluminum and metal pans and bowls, as well as metal flatware.
If you must cook something in the microwave, only use product packaging and microwave-safe bowls.

Fighting Fires When They Do Happen

If a fire does occur, you need to quickly determine what type of fire you have on your hands. This allows you to put the fire out properly and quickly before it can spread.
Grease fire: Grease fires usually occur when grease from a pan is ignited by a heat source. A grease fire is only made worse if you try to use water to put it out, as the water can cause the fire to spread quickly. To put out a grease fire, you have a few options at your disposal, including:
  • Smothering it with a pot lid if the fire is contained to a pan
  • Pouring baking soda or salt on the flames for small fires
  • Using a Class B fire extinguisher
In all cases, make sure to shut off the heat source to the fire. In addition, if the grease fire becomes too big for you to put out, get out of your home, closing the door as you leave to contain it, and call 911 as soon as you reach a safe distance from the fire.
Electric fire: Electrical fires happen when an electrical current causes a fuel source to catch fire. As with a grease fire, you want to avoid putting an electric fire out with water, as this can lead to electric shock. Some common causes of electric fires include:
  • A short in a plug, outlet, or appliance
  • Outdated wiring in the home
  • A bad ground in a switch or outlet
Ways to put out an electric fire include:
  • Using baking soda for a small fire
  • Using a Class C fire extinguisher
Wood fire: A wood fire happens when everyday combustible materials, such as paper, wood, or trash, catch fire. Water represents one of the best ways to put out a wood fire. Some other methods of putting out a wood fire include:
  • Using baking soda
  • Using a large blanket to cut off the fire’s oxygen supply
  • Using a Class A fire extinguisher
You can easily prevent or contain a kitchen fire by cleaning your kitchen frequently, maintaining your appliances, and keeping a fire extinguisher on hand. You should also teach your kids proper kitchen safety so that they can help keep your kitchen free of fire.