There’s nothing nicer on a cold winter morning than cooking up a good hot breakfast to share with someone you love. Even kitchen klutzes can figure out how to brew coffee and scramble eggs. But make sure you’re awake before you stumble into the kitchen and turn on the stove, because studies by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show that the number-one cause of home fires and home fire injuries is cooking, and most of those cooking fires start on the stove. In consultation with the NFPA, your insurance agents should offer these tips for making sure your kitchen experiences are happy ones:
- Don’t store plasticware or anything flammable in an oven or microwave. Always check inside an oven before turning it on. Completely clear off the stovetop before turning on a burner.
- Stay focused on cooking. Once you turn on a stovetop burner, don’t leave the kitchen without turning it off. Always keep the stovetop in your field of view when working in the kitchen.
- In a small kitchen, don’t allow more than one other person to help you cook. Unless this is a special teaching session with one child, keep children away from the stove.
- Keep a clean kitchen. Grease and food spills can catch fire. Clear clutter away from the stovetop. Have paper recipes encased in plastic, and when you need to refer to them, put them on a counter away from the stove.
- Use pots and pans of adequate capacity on the stovetop and in the oven to prevent spills.
- Be careful not to overheat oil or grease. Use cooking thermometers when in doubt. Immediately turn off the heat under any grease that starts to smoke.
- Roll up sleeves and tuck in loose shirts. An apron is good for more than keeping stains off good clothes; it can keep good clothes from getting scorched.
- Use the back burners first, and turn pot handles out of the way. Make sure all pots have lids that fit, and have them accessible while cooking.
- Keep pot holders in a designated place where they are easy to reach when you need them and easy to put away when you don’t.
- Use timers to remind you what’s cooking where.
- Keep a charged fire extinguisher in or close to the kitchen.
- Keep a box of baking soda nearby because…
…if you do have a kitchen fire:
- Pour baking soda on a grease fire, NOT WATER. Water will cause burning grease to splatter.
- Turn off all burners and the oven.
- Slide a lid firmly over a pan with burning contents and leave the lid on until the pan is cool.
- Use the fire extinguisher that you kept charged and ready. Point the nozzle at the base of the fire, not the flames.
- If the fire gets out of control, make sure everyone is out of the house. Get out yourself before calling 911. Shut all doors behind you.
We hope this list will help keep your winter cooking pleasant! For more information, please contact our insurance agents.