THE ‘HEART OF THE HOME’ CAN BE BIGGEST FIRE CAUSE
Family and friends like to gather in the kitchen during holidays as this is the “heart of the home” where home-cooked meals are created with love. The kitchen is being utilized more than ever because of Covid-19.
The kitchen—and cooking—can come with risks. Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home injuries. One of fire departments’ goals is to help make kitchens a safe place for everyone.
One of the most important things to do in preventing fires is to stay attentive while cooking. It only takes seconds for something as common as boiling water to take a turn for the worse, especially with distractions. By staying alert, common kitchen fires can be prevented.
The most common cooking fires occur when food is left unattended and/or involving the stovetop, so
- stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food
- stay home and set a timer if you are baking or roasting food, and check it regularly
- keep the stovetop clear of items, such as mitts, wooden utensils, boxes, and towels
If a small grease fire should happen, and you can do so carefully, put on an oven mitt, slide a lid over the pan (or slowly slide the pan to an unused burner), and turn the burner off, but never throw water on the fire. If you have a fire in the oven, turn it off, keep the door closed until it’s cool, and make sure a professional looks at it before using it again.
When using the microwave, do not use aluminum foil or metal inside. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes some of the safer alternatives are glass, ceramic, paper products, and plastic containers labeled for microwave use.
Children love being in the kitchen to learn how to cook and help bake. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends the following for kids and pets:
- Keep a three-foot safety zone around stoves and grills and where hot food and/or liquids are being prepared.
- Turn pot handles away from the edge.
- Use the back burners if possible.
- Find safe and kid-friendly recipes.
- Make sure children always cook with a grown-up present.
If clothes catch on fire, remember: stop, drop, and roll—and remember to cover your face.
Smoke alarms are a critical life-saving tool and should be located in every room of the home. Test the smoke alarms every month; change the batteries twice a year; and replace the entire unit every ten years.
Plan ahead and know two ways out in case there is a fire inside your home. Call 9-1-1 in case you have a fire—no matter how small. If you have general questions call your local fire department.
Megan Contreras, Community Relations Coordinator of the Iona McGregor Fire District, contributed to this article.
The Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition serves as a collaborative effort or partnership whose function is to facilitate partners’ work and act as a catalyst for injury prevention initiatives. Its mission is to prevent injury, disability, and death through advocacy, education, legislation, and partnerships.
Additional information about the Injury Prevention Coalition or safe cooking in the home may contact Brian Raimondo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-330-2240.