Property Managers: 6 Ways to Avoid Kitchen Fires
In association with National Fire Prevention month, Property Management Insider is featuring a series of fire awareness and prevention articles.
A dicey economy and interest in a bounty of television cooking shows have armchair chefs around the globe fondue-ing and flambé-ing from the comforts of their own kitchen. But that open flame under the saucepan is a reminder that most home fires start in the kitchen.
Increased cooking in apartment units and around the clubhouse can be especially daunting for property managers. But by passing along to your residents some simple and important rules offered by the American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association, cooking and kitchen fires can be avoided.
Stay in the Kitchen
Don’t forget about that boiling pot of gumbo. People will put something on the stove, walk away, and forget it. The pot boils over, oily or greasy liquid hits the heat source, and you have a big problem. It’s easy to get distracted, but keep close tabs on anything that’s in the oven or on the stove. This includes the microwave. If something catches on fire in the microwave, leave the door closed and turn off the microwave. Thus you are eliminating the source of heat and smothering the oxygen supply.
If you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop. Use a microwave to prepare hot meals or order in your favorite food.
A pot holder or dish towel that’s right next to the heating element or open flame can spell disaster. Keep all materials, including plastic ware and packaging, away from the heat. A greasy plastic or wooden spoon can get hot enough to ignite.
Use a Timer
Regularly check food that is simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling. And use a timer as a reminder that food is cooking. Periodically check timers to make sure they are working.
Beware of Grease
A lot of people have heard the fallacy that you can smother a grease fire by spreading baking soda or flour over it. Not true! The only way to smother a grease fire is to put a lid on the pan, thereby cutting off the oxygen to the fire, then turn off the heat source. If flames continue to come around the sides of the lid, the fire is too big and you should evacuate the home immediately and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number for the fire department. As a general rule, keep a lid nearby to contain small grease fires.
Dress the Part
Ever notice that a chef’s cooking smock usually has shortened, tapered sleeves? This is so clothing won’t dangle next to a heat source and potentially catch on fire. Avoid wearing long sleeves or baggy clothing while cooking.
If you do have a fire and your efforts to extinguish it are failing, get out of the kitchen and close the door behind you to contain the fire. Have everyone leave the house, then call 9-1-1 or your local emergency fire response team.
Here’s to happy and safe cooking!