Following up to our last article about flammable foods, here’s some guidelines that will reduce your risk of a culinary catastrophe:
Stay by the food – “The causes of cooking fires are spread across the kitchen,” says U.S. Fire Administration Spokesperson Tom Olshanski, “but a lot of it is due to inattentiveness.” If you leave the kitchen, always turn off the stove.
Don’t let the grease escape – When cooking meat, make sure the pan is deep enough to contain the fats. If the pan is too shallow, the grease might spill over and set fire.
A dirty kitchen is a dangerous kitchen – The oil from food cakes on the inside of ovens and on stovetops. This grease can potentially ignite, so always keep the oven and stove clean.
If a fire does break out in your kitchen, here’s what you should do:
Have a lid nearby—If a grease fire starts on the stove, turn off the burner and cover the flames by sliding a lid or even a cookie sheet over the pan (while wearing an oven mitt!). Don’t attempt to move the pan; instead, keep the lid on until it is completely cool.
Don’t add water to the grease fire, as it causes the grease to splash and spread even more rapidly.
For oven and microwave oven fires, keep the door closed until the fire is out. Unplug the microwave if you can safely reach the plug.
Put it out—if you can.
When in doubt, just get out—Olshanski advises that if you encounter a fire and have any doubts about how to handle it, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1. “Fire knows nothing but destroy, injure and kill,” he warns. “Everything about a kitchen fire can be replaced except the people who live there.”
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