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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Fire Prevention 24-7 – Cooking safety: tips for preventing home fires and injuries


The smell of fall is in the air and the holiday cooking season is just around the corner. Homes will be filled with the smells of roasts, turkey, pies and cookies.

Let’s take a minute to think about cooking safety. Cooking is a common activity; however, it can also pose various safety risks if proper precautions are not taken. From home fires to injuries, neglecting what’s cooking can be a serious issue. This article aims to raise awareness of the major causes of home fires and injuries in the kitchen, while providing advice to ensure cooking is done safely.

1. Turn Pot Handles In, Watch What You’re Cooking: One of the leading causes of accidents in the kitchen is accidental bumps or pulls on pot handles. To prevent this, turn pot handles inward, away from the stove’s edge. This step significantly reduces the chances of a pot being knocked over and causing scalding burns or fires. Be attentive while cooking. Avoid distractions that might lead to accidents.

2. Maintain a Kid-Free Zone Around the Stove: Establish a three-foot “kid-free zone” around the stove and other cooking appliances. This boundary helps prevent accidental burns or spills caused by children reaching for or tampering with hot surfaces or pots. Supervision is crucial to ensure children stay safe while you’re cooking.

3. Stay in the Kitchen When Frying, Grilling or Broiling: Most kitchen fires occur with cooking involving high temperatures, when methods such as frying, grilling or broiling are left unattended. Whether it’s a quick task or a lengthy process, never leave the stove unattended unless you turn off the heat.

4. Regularly Check Simmering, Baking and other Low-Heat Cooking: While low-heat cooking methods may seem less risky, they still need attention. Check on your food regularly to prevent it from boiling over, burning or causing a fire. Set reminders or use timers if necessary. Awareness of what’s cooking or baking can help prevent accidents.

5. Keep Flammable Items Away from the Stove: Flammable items, such as oven mitts, kitchen towels and paper towels, should be kept away from the stove top. These materials can easily catch fire if they come into contact with a hot burner or open flame.

6. Keep the Stove Clean: Grease and food residue can accumulate on stovetops, and in ovens, increasing the risk of fires. Regularly clean your stove and oven to remove any spills, grease or debris. Additionally, clean the exhaust hood and stove filters to ensure proper ventilation. A clean cooking area minimizes fire hazards and improves overall kitchen hygiene.

7. Responding to Fires: If a fire breaks out in the oven, turn off the heat. Keep the oven door closed to suffocate the flames. Call the fire department to ensure the fire is out and didn’t get out of the oven. In the case of a small fire on the stove top, cover the flames with a lid and turn off the heat. Move the pot to a cool burner. Never use water to extinguish a grease or cooking oil fire. Having and knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket can keep a small fire from becoming a large fire.

Cooking safety is important to prevent home fires and injuries. By practicing these tips, you can ensure a safer cooking experience for you and your family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Questions? Contact Andy Winckler, FF/EMT-P, CADS, at wincklera@naperville.il.us.

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Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin
Soraya McLaughlin is the Naperville Fire Department Community Education Specialist. Contact her via email at mclaughlins@naperville.il.us.