It’s well-known that, “The kitchen is where life happens”. After responding to three recent fire calls involving kitchen equipment and several calls involving burnt food, the Bismarck Fire Department wants to remind its community members how to keep life happening in the kitchen safe.
Life may happen in the kitchen, but keep children and pets 3 feet away from the stove. Let children help at the table measuring ingredients, but never allow them to play with pots and pans. Once a handle is a toy, children are more likely to reach for them on the stovetop. So, put your pot of boiling water on the back burner and turn pan handles toward the center of the stove (never left hanging out over the edge).
Even when you have done everything necessary to stay safe, such as wearing short sleeves or tight cuffs to keep your clothing from catching fire, fires can still happen, so always stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling. Grease fires are one of the most common fires, and one of the most dangerous, as a Bismarck resident found out last week. Although it’s unclear exactly what steps he took, he first tried water. Never use water on a grease fire; it causes the grease to flare up and splash, spreading the fire quickly. And never carry a pan with burning grease; you could not only spread fire, but also severely burn your arms, hands, or face. The best action is to cover and smother a grease fire sliding on a lid or cookie sheet while wearing oven mitts and turn off the heat; so keep a lid handy. If the flames are too big put the lid on with a pair of tongs, or get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1. If the grease fire is in the oven do as a Bismarck woman did. According to Firefighter Adam Mork, “The resident did absolutely the right thing. She never opened the oven door, and she turned the oven off. Her quick thinking saved a lot of property damage and never put her in harm’s way.”
No matter what you are cooking, if you have to step away, even for a second, use a timer so items are not forgotten. Never leave the house with the stove, oven, or an appliance on, especially with self-cleaning ovens, which use very high temperatures. If something is left in the oven or the oven malfunctions while cleaning, enormous amounts of heat and smoke can be produced which is what another Bismarck resident experienced. At the smell of smoke, she too left the oven shut, turned off the power, and called 9-1-1. Firefighters arrived and noticed jars near the stove had blistered; had she not been there to reacted quickly, and had she not kept her stove area tidy, items could have easily ignited.
Cleanliness around your stove is a crucial safety tip; even materials designed to use around the stove can burn. Make sure wooden spoons, oven mitts, kitchen towels; food packaging, plastic bags, and any other flammables are kept at a safe distance. Also, ensure your stove top is clean; particularly free of grease and residue.
As always, remember to have smoke detectors properly installed in your home with working batteries in place. Because elderly residents may have slower reaction times due to physical limitations, medications, or diminishing mental facilities, smoke detectors and early warnings are extremely important. Get to know your elderly neighbors and family members and check in on them regularly. Visit https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/seniors-kitchen-fires-safe-cooking-149302.htm to view resources about Kitchen Fires: Make Cooking Safer for Seniors
A final and very important reminder: never use your oven to heat or supplement heating in your home. If you need assistance with heating expenses the North Dakota Application for Low Income Energy Assistance can be found by visiting http://www.nd.gov/eforms/Doc/sfn00529.pdf.
For more information about fire safety and prevention visit www.bismarcknd.gov/fire.