Kitchen Fire Safety

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Each year kitchen fires kill hundreds of people and injure thousands. Many of the injured are children using the microwave. Most of these fires can be prevented by following these basic fire safety tips:

  • Never leave food cooking on the stove or in the oven when you leave home. Stay in the kitchen when food is cooking. If you do have to leave the kitchen, set a timer as a reminder to return to the kitchen.
  • Turn off stoves and appliances as soon as you are finished using them.
  • Unplug small kitchen appliances when they are not in use.
  • Wipe appliance surfaces after spills and clean stove tops and ovens regularly. Built-up grease on stovetops can catch fire easily.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking. Loose sleeves may touch hot stove burners and catch fire. Protect yourself by wearing sleeves that fit snugly or by rolling up your sleeves securely when you cook.
  • Do not store things on or above your stove. Clothing can catch fire when you lean over stove burners to reach shelves.
  • Avoid overloading your electrical outlets. Do not plug too many kitchen appliances, especially heat-producing ones such as toasters, coffee pots, waffle irons, and frying pans, into the same electrical outlet. Appliances can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Keep heat-producing appliances away from walls or curtains. Replace frayed or cracked electrical cords immediately. Never use an appliance cord with a cracked, loose, or damaged plug.
  • Keep fuses or circuit breakers in good working order. If an electrical appliance gets wet, have it serviced before using it again.
  • Prevent burns and stovetop fires by always turning pot handles toward the back of the stove  A pot handle sticking over the edge of your stove can be bumped or grabbed by a child. Always keep children far away from a hot stove.
  • Heat cooking oil slowly over moderate heat and never leave it unattended.

Microwave Often Safety

  • Use potholders when removing food from a microwave oven. While microwave ovens stay cool, the food cooked in them can be very hot. Remove lids from packaged microwave foods carefully to prevent steam burns.
  • Be careful when heating liquids in the microwave oven. Since the containers may only feel warm, rather than hot, they are sometimes handled with less caution. This can easily result in the splashing or spilling of a scalding liquid.
  • To minimize risk of fire when using the microwave, never attempt to heat articles that are not approved for use in microwave ovens.
  • Remove food from packaging before defrosting in a microwave oven. Do not use plastic storage containers, foam trays and plastic wraps in microwave ovens because they are not heat stable at high temperatures. Melting or warping can occur which may cause harmful chemicals to migrate into the food.
  • Never use recycled paper products in microwave ovens unless they are specifically approved for microwave use. Some recycled products including paper towels and even waxed paper may contain minute metal flecks. When a microwave oven is operating, the interaction between microwaves and the metal can cause sparks and even flames.
  • Do not leave a microwave oven unattended when microwaving popcorn, since the heat buildup can cause fires. Heat the popcorn according to the written instructions, but begin with the minimum time specified because some microwaves can scorch popcorn in as little as two minutes.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately. This will stop the fan so it won’t feed oxygen to the flames. Never open the oven door until you are absolutely certain that the fire is out. If in doubt, call the fire department.
  • Use only microwave-safe utensils. The instructions that come with each microwave oven specify what kinds of containers are safe to use and how to test the suitability of materials before use.

Next week: Extinguishing A Kitchen Fire

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