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  • Cooking Fire Safety

  • Cooking equipment, most often a range or stovetop, is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Cooking equipment is also the leading cause of unreported fires and associated injuries. Here are some tips for staying safe in the kitchen:

    • Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
    • Follow manufacturers' instructions and code requirements when installing and operating cooking equipment.
    • Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

     

    Use Barbecue Grills Safely 

    • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
    • Declare a 3-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill to keep children and pets safe.
    • Use long-handled grilling tools to give plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
    • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
    • Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.

     

    Charcoal Grills 

    • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
    • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

     

    Propane Grills 

    • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
    • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
      • Turn off the propane tank and grill.
      • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
      • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
      • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
    • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
    • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers' instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
    • Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

     

    Watch What You Heat  

    • The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
    • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
    • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
    • Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won't be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.

     

    Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart  

    • Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stovetop.
    • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
    • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
    • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
    • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll. Stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover face with hands. Roll over and over or back and forth to put out the fire. Immediately cool the burn with cool water for 3 to 5 minutes and then seek emergency medical care.

     

    Prevent Scalds and Burns 

    • To prevent spills due to overturn of appliances containing hot food or liquids, use the back burner when possible and/or turn pot handles away from the stove's edge. All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges.
    • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
    • Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens, or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders as they can cause scald burns.
    • Replace old or worn oven mitts.
    • Treat a burn right away, putting it in cool water. Cool the burn for 3 to 5 minutes. If the burn is bigger than your fist or if you have any questions about how to treat it, seek medical attention right away.

     

    Install and Use Microwave Ovens Safely 

    • Place or install the microwave oven at a safe height, within easy reach of all users. The face of the person using the microwave oven should always be higher than the front of the microwave oven door. This is to prevent hot food or liquid from spilling onto a user's face or body from above and to prevent the microwave oven itself from falling onto a user.
    • Never use aluminum foil or metal objects in a microwave oven. They can cause a fire and damage the oven.
    • Heat food only in containers or dishes that are safe for microwave use.
    • Open heated food containers slowly away from the face to avoid steam burns. Hot steam escaping from the container or food can cause burns.
    • Foods heat unevenly in microwave ovens. Stir and test before eating.

     

    How and When to Fight Cooking Fires 

    • When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
    • If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
    • Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
    • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
    • If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
    • After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

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