Preventing Kitchen Fires

All too often we hear of someone innocently starting to deep fry some chicken, or fries or a tortilla, leave the kitchen for “just a minute” and come back in to a blazing stove top.  The mess a fire like this creates is unbelievable. I spent a few minutes reviewing a report from the University of Maryland and it’s Department of Fire Protection Engineering.  In among all the statistics for how quickly different oils ignite were the sobering facts about residential fires.  They account for 1/4th of fire incidents but they’re also responsible for 75% of fire related deaths and injuries.  Eighty eight percent of fires leading to deaths were on the range or cook top and 93% of these “food ignition fires” began with the ignition of cooking oil.

Further considerations in cooking with oil…

Cooking oil and fireOil is a key ingredient found in the majority of today’s kitchens. Whether a recipe calls for frying or sautéing, we include oil in almost all of our daily cooking. When using any of the many oils to prepare your meals like olive, canola, corn or soybean, consider the following safety tips when cooking:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
  • Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
  • Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.
  • If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.

Did you know that electric stoves are considered more dangerous than gas?  It’s pretty reasonable: You can’t see the heat source with electric as you can with gas, and then the heat is so intense, even after turning the electricity off.  So what are some steps you can take to protect yourself?

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stove top.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stove top.

Taking just a few minutes can save you SO much time and headache!  If you do have smoke and fire damage, call your insurance agent.  Then call us!  The crew at Lamunyon Dry Out & Foundation Repair have cleaned up plenty of oil and grease fires throughout our service area.  That area includes all of Central Kansas and as far west as Hays to as far east as the outskirts of Topeka.  While we will happily do it for you, we’d rather meet under less stressful circumstances!  Pay attention, stay focused on one thing at a time and enjoy a nice meal!

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