Previously we’ve written about the top 10 leading causes of house fires, and seeing that kitchen fires topped the list we decided that it may be beneficial to elaborate on how to avoid having an unruly blaze break out in your cooking area.

After all, we all have to eat and it would be rather difficult to enjoy a home cooked meal if our kitchen is nothing more than a burnt shell, right?

So, here are 9 steps you can take to minimize the chances of a kitchen fire:

  1. Stay in the kitchen when cooking. Most kitchen fires start when you’re not looking, so don’t allow yourself to get distracted by the television in the next room or an interesting phone conversation that causes you to wander into another part of the house. Stay alert and keep your eyes on your cookware, especially if you’re cooking with grease. If you do have to leave the kitchen, make sure you turn off the stove first.
  2. Keep the stove clear of any flammable materials. All paper towels, oven mitts, kitchen towels, hot pads, wooden spoons, appliance cords and anything else that can easily catch fire should be kept away from the stovetop.
  3. Don’t cook in loose, flowing clothing.  The last thing you want is for your clothes to catch on fire, so be sure that you wear snug clothing and roll up your sleeves when cooking, especially when working over the stove. If they do catch on fire, remember: stop, drop and roll!
  4. Keep your appliances clean and in good repair. Clean out the crumbs in the toaster, keep your microwave decent and wipe that grease build-up off the stove. The last thing you want is for a fire to break out because you got lazy with the clean-up jobs!
  5. Don’t overfill pots/pans with grease and dispose of hot grease/oil properly. Hot oil/grease tends to pop and splatter, which can not only cause burns on your arms but spark a fire as well. Tossing hot grease in a garbage can is just as dangerous since it can set the trash on fire if not the can itself (assuming it’s not metal). Be careful not to use too much grease and always wait until the grease cools before disposing of it in an old coffee can or unused jar.
  6. Don’t use metal in the microwave. This can not only damage your microwave, but cause sparks that can quickly turn into a fire.
  7. Plug electrical appliances directly into outlets. Don’t use an extension cord, that’s a no-no.
  8. Unplug electric appliances when they are not in use. Small appliances like toasters, coffee makers, blenders, et cetera continue to pull electricity even if they’re not turned on or in use. Unfortunately, that means they could be a fire hazard due to faulty or old wiring. Play it safe and conserve a little bit of energy by unplugging them when they’re not being used.
  9. Be prepared to put out a fire. Make sure you know what to do when a fire breaks out, (i.e. carefully place a proper fitting lid over a pot or pan to smother a fire or close the oven door if it catches on fire), and keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case. Although, when in doubt, call 911.
Happy Cooking!