Kitchen fires are one of those oddities in that they do not occur all that often, but when they do they can be absolutely disastrous. Injuries, property damage, and financial impact can be extremely severe consequences of a fire in your kitchen. Also, while we may perceive them as being uncommon, they actually have a pretty serious presence.
The US Fire Administration released the following statistics after analyzing house fires from 2008 to 2010:
164,500 cooking fires in residential buildings occur each year in the United States (estimated).
Residential fire damage and injuries are most often caused by cooking fires.
Oil, fat, and grease were the leading fuel sources for kitchen fires.
Most cooking fires were started between 5 and 8 pm (aka - dinnertime!).
While this is still far from an everyday occurrence, it does mean that the problem is more serious than people might realize. Fortunately, there are a number of kitchen fire prevention safety tips you can follow to keep your house fire-free.
Putting granite countertops in, particularly around the oven and stove, is an excellent way to prevent kitchen fires. Granite is too hard and dense to burn at the temperature of a kitchen fire, so even if the worst happens and a grease fire spills onto a granite surface, it is unlikely to spread beyond it if controlled quickly.
Keep Surfaces Clean
The USFA mentioned that grease and oils are the big offenders in many kitchen fires. This extends beyond making sure that you don't spill the oil when you cook, however. Families that regularly eat fried food can build up a layer of oil and grease on the surfaces nearest the stove, for example. This can create an accelerant layer around the stove area, and can make a fire spread more quickly. Keep your surfaces clean of any oil buildup to avoid this problem.
It can be easy to let clutter build up in the kitchen. Cooking ware you use frequently might get washed and put right back on the stove for next time, or you may stack up serving dishes in preparation for the day's meal. It may not seem like it, but this can seriously contribute to cooking fires. All it takes is an unexpected bump to spill hot oil where it doesn't belong. Keep clutter to a functional minimum to protect yourself from accidents.
Have an Extinguisher
This seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly few kitchens have a dedicated fire extinguisher on hand. They aren't very expensive, many can be found for under $50 in fact. Get one and keep it near the oven for ready use, and also take the time to familiarize yourself with how it functions. Practice the steps of using it without actually discharging it, so that if you need it you can use it automatically.
It can be easy to lose our focus for a number of reasons. Being tired, or cooking something you've made a hundred times before or even just thinking about something separate, can lead to mistakes when cooking. Take the extra effort and time to pay attention to what you are doing, and you eliminate most chances for a fire to happen before they even come up.
Ashley Madison is a writer for EssentialFireSafety.co.uk.