martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

Kitchen Fire Safety Tips

Kitchen Fire Safety Tips

Do you enjoy cooking?  It can be a pleasure, a chore, a time to relax, an informal social setting to bring family and friends together or a high stress zone during family holiday visits (remember all those  “helpers” reviewing the work in progress).   With the exception of the backyard barbecue, the home kitchen is THE place to cook in the home. Whatever the reason for being in the kitchen –  primary cook, kitchen helper or food taster, you should know that according to the National Fire Protection Association cooking is the number one cause of home fires and injuries.  So, being mindful of how you cook in the kitchen will go a long way in reducing the risk of home fires.
NEXUS Home Security suggests the following kitchen fire safety tips:
1.         Stay In the Kitchen – Don´t leave the kitchen while you have things cooking on the stove, especially with an open flame.  If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove and take your pots/pans off the burners.  If you are using your oven to broil food, same thing applies.  This is basic common sense.  You already know this anyway.  So don´t do it.
2.         Your Clothes – Have you ever watch the TV cooking shows?  The “chefs” are either in “chef type garb”, short sleeve type shirts/blouses or shirts with their sleeves rolled up to minimize the risk of having cloth get near the stove burner´s open flame.  Since I am not a chef, I don´t wear chef garb when I am cooking.  Instead I opt for either a tee shirt or tied apron.  (Yes, guys can still be masculine and wear aprons, depending upon the color selection and what might be written on it.)  As an aside, for those that use electric stoves, much of what was said still applies.  The exception being that you really can´t control the cooking temperature versus a gas stove…
3.         Stuff Around the Stove – If you put things too close to a stove burner´s open flame, chances are that something will catch fire.  This is a basic law of chemistry that you were taught by your parents at a very young age, I´m sure.  Things you should watch out for include:  your hand, kitchen towels, oven mitts, curtains blowing, alcohol, matches, etc.  Since I usually use kitchen towels to move things from the burners (I can never remember the oven mitt), they often dangle and can touch the burner – beware.
4.         Cooking With Oil – Returning to you chefs and experienced cooks, you know that different oils have different temperatures where they begin to smoke. This is called their smoke point.  Whether its margarine, butter, corn, olive, extra virgin olive, coconut, lard, and others, they all behave differently under heat.  When they begin to smoke, they can catch fire.  So, don´t use an oil with a low smoke point for high heat cooking, especially frying.  When you´re done, wait for the oil to cool down before disposing of it (use an old tin can), especially if you are planning the garbage can since it may cause something inside to burn.
5.          Microwave, Toasters, Blenders… – These kitchen devices should be plugged in directly to a grounded (three prong) outlet. No extension cords should be used since there can be an overload of the circuit, cause an internal short in the wall, and… a kitchen fire.  Very bad news since you may not see or smell it until it is a REAL problem.
6.         Microwaves – It bears repeating: No metal objects in the microwave, it does really nasty things.  Teach this basic cooking rule to your kids at a young age, since they will use the microwave at any time of day or night for any type of thing.  (Remember they watch a LOT of TV and have seen some bizarre uses for a microwave.)  You should be careful of some food packaging items may include some type of metal foil.  When in doubt, read the packaging label to see if it is “microwave safe”.
7.         Keep Your Stove Clean – There a many benefits to cleanliness, but for this topic it is related to not having something on the surface that will be combustible. For example, grease and oil that can be ignited, on the stovetop or in the oven.
8.         Extinguish Candles – If you are using candles because the lights went out or you want to set the mood for your romantic “other half”, use shorter, wider candles so they are less likely to tip over. When finished, blow them out and make sure that they remain out.
9.         Have A Home Fire Extinguisher Nearby – It´s better to have it and not need it, then not have it and need it. Know how to use it.  It will keep a small kitchen stove fire, small instead of becoming something much worse.
10.       Be Prepared – Remember Smokey The Bear?  If a fire does occur, you want to be prepared.  If it is a stovetop fire, put a lid over the pan/pot to smother it.  Don´t use  water and don´t try and move a flaming pan/pot to the sink.  You risk spreading the fire or burning yourself with the cooking ingredients.
11.         Have A Fire Escape Plan – Plan for something that is likely to occur sometime. Have the fire department telephone number written and programmed on your telephone. Sit down with your family (especially the young ones) and have a fire escape plan – getting out of the house and where to meet outside in a designated area.

12.         Stop, Drop and Roll – Don’t run if your clothing catches fire – stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll. Then get to a hospital to get treatment for your burns.
Practice these kitchen fire safety tips every time you and your family are in the kitchen.  Don’t hesitate to call your local fire department when in doubt.

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