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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cooking Related Fire Hazards

I am so guilty of doing this – leaving food cooking on the stove top unattended.  I’d like to blame my 8 year old son for this.  “Mom, can you come here?” he will holler.  “Gray, honey, I can’t.  I’ve got food cooking on the stove,” I typically reply.  “But it will only take a second,” he counters.  But that’s the thing, it can only take seconds for a fire to start.

According to the U. S. Fire Administration, cooking fires were the leading reported cause for residential fires for 2013 at 188,000.  Moreover, the National Fire Protection Association reports for a 2007-2011 compilation of data that unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor of residential fires.

We all know these things, but sometimes seeing them again proves to be a good reminder – for myself included:
  • Always, always, always stay in the kitchen when cooking – anything.
  • Keep things like oven mitts, dish towels, and paper towels away from heat sources.
  • When simmering, baking, or roasting foods (things you don’t constantly have to be on top of), still stay in the kitchen and check the items frequently.  If needed, set a timer to help you stay on top of it.
  • Use care when frying foods.  If you see threads of smoke, turn off the heat and remove the pan.  Smoke indicates that the oil is too hot.  Use care when adding food to hot oil to avoid splattering.  Keep a lid nearby, and in case of a fire, place the lid over the top and slide the pan off the heat.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, that’s in good working order, handy.  Here’s some information to help you both choose the right fire extinguisher and keep it properly maintained.   
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and leave the door closed.
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances, per the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.
  • Always have an escape plan, and be sure to practice it with your kids.
One final thought - did you know that 55% of homeowners from the statistics above were injured while trying to put out the fire themselves?  Use great care if you choose to try and put the fire out on your own.  Remember -- things can be replaced, repaired, and saved using restoration dry cleaning.  You cannot. 

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