When you think of cooking fires, perhaps you think of a smoldering slice of toast or a casserole that cooks until it's black and crispy. Think again. Cooking fires are dangerous and can become very large, very quickly. Cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries. And kitchens are the leading place for these fires to start. In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, cooking fires caused 63 structure fires in Marion County.
To keep your food from flaming and your house from charring, follow these cooking safety tips:
1. Never leave cooking unattended; watch what you heat.
2. Turn pan handles in and away from children's reach.
3. Keep all appliances in good working order.
4. Never overload electrical outlets.
5. Unplug appliances that aren't in use.
6. Keep your stove exhaust system (fan) free from grease build-up.
7. Don't wear loose fitting clothing while cooking.
8. Keep combustible kitchen items (dish towels, pot holders, curtains, etc.) at least three feet away from the stove and/or open flames.
9. Keep a lid handy to cover the pot or pan if a small fire should start.
10. Use appropriate cookware in the microwave and remember the food may be extremely hot.
11. Keep an "ABC" approved fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure it's charged and working properly (see the "Fire Extinguishers" page for additional information).
12. Take a pot holder with you if you must leave the kitchen, so you'll remember to get back to the kitchen quickly.
13. Use timers to remind yourself to check on food that takes several hours to cook.
14. Remember fire extinguishers are not an alternative to calling the fire department.
15. Never put water on a grease fire; the water will spread the fire, not extinguish it.
16. Keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat for oven fires.
17. Cover the small fire with a pan lid and turn off the heat, for stove fires.
18. Call 9-1-1 after extinguishing a fire to ensure it hasn't spread.