6 Fire Prevention Tips For Your Kitchen
One of the worst Christmases I ever experienced began with the death of a family friend and his wife in a car accident. On the way back home from the viewing, we noticed a pillar of smoke coming from our neighborhood. That was more than enough to sound the alarms in my brain, but until I saw the flames pouring out of the house, I still held on to hope that that sort of thing could never happen to me.
When it rains, it pours, they say.
(We could have used some rain that night, but I digress.)
Ultimately, when the cause of the fire was determined, it was traced back to a disturbance in the kitchen, most likely an accidental grease fire. The rest of the details are lost on me due to the decades that have passed since then, but it still occurs to me every year just how important it is to practice safety in the kitchen. In that spirit, here are a few tips to keep you from falling victim to your own carelessness.
Don’t Leave Cooking Unattended.
Most raging fires don’t happen in a split second. They need a little time to grow. In that time, you can actually stop them from happening if you respond quickly to hazards that arise. Don’t get caught up in something on television or in a phone conversation with a family member or friend. While fires need time, they don’t need much time, and every second counts.
Stay Alert, Especially When You’re About To Leave.
When you have somewhere to be, your mind tends to skip over important details. When those details are in the kitchen working with a hot stove or oven, the results can be disastrous. It’s worth being a minute or two late to make sure you haven’t left something burning.
Be Extra Careful With Flammable Things.
A kitchen towel is the first thing that comes to mind here. These can be very flammable, and if you leave them close to heat, they can ignite and spread that fire rapidly.
Never Use Water On A Grease Fire.
While firefighters use water as their primary source of fighting a fire, grease fires are a different animal. They agitate such ignitions and cause them to splash and rage out of control. If you’re in doubt as to the cause of the fire — even if it’s a sliver of doubt — use the fire extinguisher. Of course, you should be well-versed on how to use said extinguisher before you actually need it. You want it to be second nature in such circumstances, or it could lead to panic.
Keep Kids And Pets Away From The Kitchen When You’re Cooking.
Animals and young children can be very hard to control and keep up with when your mind is on other things. Nevertheless, you have to be extra vigilant when it comes to cooking, because the smallest mistake can end in tragedy. If you have a baby gate, use it. If there is a spouse or significant other in the picture, make sure they run interference.
Make Sure Your Smoke Detectors Are Operational.
People tend to get busy and forget about the limited nature of these life-saving devices. They can’t alert you to trouble if the batteries are dead or there is some other malfunction. You are supposed to test them every month, change the batteries every year, and replace the units every few years as dictated by the manufacturer. (Most last around 7 to 10 years.)
While home insurance will protect you in the event of an accidental fire, that’s only from a monetary standpoint, and even then, it’s only if you’ve purchased enough coverage to rebuild (rather than purchasing just the amount the home is worth). Insurance cannot save everything, though. It can’t replace those priceless pictures or mementos that you keep to remember your loved ones. To do that, you’ll need to be knowledgeable of the fire hazards right under your nose and vigilant to stop dangers before they escalate.