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Ensuring Cooking Safety during Fire Prevention Week 2023

October 8-14, 2023 marks this year’s Fire Prevention Week. The theme for 2023 is “Cooking Safety: Serve Up Fire Protection in the Kitchen!” As we indulge in our favorite fall and winter comfort foods, fire safety should be our top priority. This includes consulting a reputable fire protection company in India to ensure that your home is equipped with the necessary safeguards to prevent potential fire hazards. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking remains the leading cause of home fires and fire-related injuries. With the right safety tips and precautions, we can safeguard our homes from kitchen fires and savor our delicious meals without worry.

Keep a Kid and a Pet-Free Cooking Area

Children under five are especially susceptible to burns and scalding injuries in the kitchen. Be sure to keep kids at least 3 feet away from the stove while you are cooking. You may consider setting up a play area out of reach of hot surfaces and liquids. Keep pets out from underfoot to avoid tripping while carrying hot dishes.

Stay Alert and Avoid Distractions

It’s easy to get distracted when cooking. You may be tempted to leave the kitchen to answer the phone, watch TV, or take care of household chores. But it’s crucial to avoid distractions and stay alert. Don’t leave food cooking on the stove unattended—keep your eyes on what you are cooking at all times. Set a timer to remind you to check on food regularly.

Keep Anything Flammable Away From Heat Sources

Keep towels, curtains, paper towels and anything flammable at least 3 feet from heat sources like the stovetop, oven, toaster oven and any other heating elements. Never leave flammable items like plastic utensils, foil or paper near open flames or electric burners. Take caution when wearing loose clothing or long sleeves while cooking over high heat.

Clean and Clear Clutter

Avoid a cooking fire hazard by keeping your cooking area clean and free of clutter. Wipe up any oil, grease or food spills immediately. Allow grease to fully cool before attempting to handle or discard. Store any flammable liquids away from heat and have a working fire extinguisher nearby. Keep combustible items like dishtowels, boxes, paper goods at a distance from your stove, burners and oven.

Use Proper Cookware

Be sure to use the right cookware and utensils for the type of cooking you are doing. Only use cookware that is designed for the stove, oven or heat source you are using. Choose flat-bottom pans for even heat on electric coils. Use flame-proof, oven-safe pans for gas stoves and ovens. Avoid leaving any empty pans over heat—they can quickly overheat. Use potholders instead of towels for handling hot cookware. Check that your potholders are in good condition and protect your hands from heat.

Monitor What You Heat

Heating oil or grease calls for caution, as it can easily overheat and catch fire. Never leave oil or grease unattended while heating. If it starts to smoke, immediately turn off the heat source. Always use a deep pan, pot or electric skillet when cooking with oil or grease so it doesn’t boil over. Let hot oil fully cool before disposal. Only fry foods at 375°F or below—use a cooking thermometer to monitor temperature.

Practice Safe Microwave Habits

Microwave use calls for care, too. Never microwave an empty container—it creates extreme heat that can damage the appliance or start a fire. Allow microwaved foods to fully cool before removing plastic wraps which can melt to skin. When reheating foods, heat in short intervals instead of all at once. This allows heat to properly disperse without creating hot spots that could burn. Avoid putting metals, aluminum foil or other materials that spark in the microwave.

Maintain Working Equipment

Faulty stoves, ovens and other cooking equipment can raise fire risks. Check that all knobs, burners and heating elements are working properly before each use. Clean the interior of your oven and under burners regularly to avoid any buildup of food, oil or grease. Always keep your stove hood filter and vents clean to prevent grease accumulation. If any appliance malfunctions, smells odd or emits smoke—discontinue use immediately and call for service.

Shut Off When Finished Cooking

Get into the habit of turning off the oven and stovetop as soon as you finish cooking. Set a reminder on your phone or smart speaker if needed. Double check that all knobs are turned completely off and oven and burner indicators are no longer lit. Never leave the kitchen while you have foods baking, simmering, broiling or boiling—stay nearby in case you need to adjust temperature or shut off in an emergency.

Be Prepared With a Fire Extinguisher

It is imperative to have a multipurpose fire extinguisher within easy reach in or near the kitchen. Ensure it’s charged and ready for emergency use, and conduct an annual gauge check. Any extinguisher over 10 years old should be promptly replaced. Equally important is educating every household member on its correct usage. In the event of a stovetop fire, swiftly smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and promptly turning off the burner. For residents in Mumbai, consulting a reputable fire extinguisher company in Mumbai ensures you have the right tools and knowledge to address potential kitchen fires effectively.

Practice Your Home Fire Escape Plan

Fire Prevention Week is the perfect time to prepare your home fire escape plan with your family. Check that smoke alarms are working on every level of your home and in each bedroom. Plan two ways out of every room and decide on an outdoor meeting place. Run practice drills at least twice a year so everyone knows how to react if the smoke alarm sounds. Make sure those with mobility limitations have assistance to safely exit.

Staying alert, avoiding distractions and implementing basic safety steps can help make cooking less risky. This Fire Prevention Week, let’s serve up some fire safety along with our favorite fall comfort foods. Small steps make a big difference in preventing kitchen fires.

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