Cooking Fires: Tips to Prevent Them and Tips to Put Them Out

We had a big event at our house: We replaced our vintage 1940s range with a brand new one. It was a bittersweet moment, I confess. I loved the look of the old range, and I have nothing but admiration for an appliance that can hold up for 70 years, especially with all of the cooking I do. But little by little, things were breaking and I was losing patience with it.

Our kitchen is now home to a gorgeous stainless steel wonder that has made my cooking time much more enjoyable!

That new range came with a brochure. OK, it came with a whole lot of papers: manuals, safety instructions, all that kind of stuff. But it also came with a slick little brochure called “Recipe for Safer Cooking.” It impressed me so much, I decided it was worth sharing here as part of our home security and safety tips!

Besides, I think we often forget just how dangerous our stoves and ovens can be. According to one study, 41% of home fires start in the kitchen. I think that makes sharing this safety information a worthwhile thing to do, don’t you?

The brochure is divided into two sections: 1) tips for preventing a kitchen fire, and 2) how to put out a kitchen fire.

To prevent a cooking fire in your kitchen

  1. Keep an eye on your cooking and stay in the kitchen. The brochure says unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires!
  2. Think about your clothes, and wear either short sleeves or close-fitting ones. If you’re rolling up your long sleeves and they won’t stay rolled up, change your shirt. Seriously.
  3. Keep an eye on kids in the kitchen! Little ones in particular can be clueless about the heat of the stove and the pan handle sticking out within reach.
  4. When kids are old enough, teach them how to cook safely. (And teaching kids how to cook period is a great idea!)
  5. Keep surfaces clean of food and grease that could catch fire.
  6. Keep fabrics like curtains, towels and hot pads away from the stovetop and other hot surfaces, like in the oven. (I know I have accidentally touched the element in the oven and caught a hot pad on fire that way!)
  7. Keep the handles of pots and pans turned in, not out.

To put out a kitchen fire

  1. If it’s more than a little fire, call the fire department first, usually by dialing 911 (depending on where you live).
  2. Slide a lid over the flames of a fire in a pot or pan. This takes away the oxygen and can smother the fire.
  3. Never, ever, ever use water on a kitchen fire! If there is any grease involved at all, you will only succeed in spreading the fire. Keep baking soda handy and use it to smother a fire.
  4. If the fire is in the oven, shut the door and turn off the heat to smother the fire.
  5. Have a fire extinguisher handy (and know how to use it), and change the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year. (Although if you’re staying in the kitchen, per the first tip above, you should know if there’s a fire!)

I hope a kitchen fire never happens in your house, but if it does, wouldn’t you rather be prepared than not? Plus these are all good tips to share with your whole family. You can download a copy of the brochure “Recipe for Safer Cooking” from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

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