Don’t let your next dinner party go up in smoke! Cooking fires are the most common cause of household fires, and you don’t have to own a commercial-sized Viking range to feel the heat. From grease spills to stray dishtowels, even a tiny cooktop in a studio apartment can set a blaze. Follow these eight tips to reduce your risks for an apartment kitchen fire.
1. Stay in the kitchen. This may seem obvious, but, according to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires. If you must leave a stove unattended, turn off the heat and move the pan to a cool burner.
2. Use a timer. Check food regularly, whether you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting. Using a timer can help remind you to check on your dish.
3. Keep the stove top clear. Keep dishtowels, oven mitts, paper towels—anything that can catch fire—away from your stovetop.
4. Dress for the occasion. Wear close-fitting clothes, and tightly roll up sleeves, when you’re cooking. Loose clothing can come in contact with burners and catch fire.
5. Wipe up spills. Cooking on a dirty stove, or in a dirty oven, is just inviting a potential fire. Grease buildup is flammable; clean your stove every time you cook and promptly wipe up any spills.
6. Don’t overheat your oils. Overheated cooking oil can start to smoke and bubble up, which can cause it to spill out and ignite. Not sure about the smoking point for your cooking oils? Refer to this handy chart.
7: Wait for grease to cool before disposing. Toss hot grease into your trashcan and it could go up in flames! Wait for it to cool before disposing of it in the garbage. Or, better yet, pour it into an old food can before tossing it out.
8. Keep your smoke detector working. A smoke detector is an important fire safety device and your first line of defense. Make sure your landlord has installed one. And make a mental note to change the batteries twice a year, when you change your clocks fordaylight savings time.
If a small fire does erupt on your stove top, you might try to smother it by sliding a lid over the pan; turn off the burner, and leave the pan uncovered until it has cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
But, when it doubt, just get out. Too many people have been injured trying to fight fires themselves. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire, and call 911. Renters insurance might help replace your valuables, but it can’t replace you!
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