Thursday, June 11, 2009

If It's Too Hot in the Kitchen . . .

I could have burned my house down today.

Not in a fit of pique. Not in festivities-gone-awry celebration of the impending end of school year.

No, because I was cooking. With the window open. Next to a cluttered counter. On a windy day.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires are the number one cause of fires in the home, and twelve percent of kitchen fires occur when something that can catch fire gets too close to the equipment.

In this case, it was paper, caught up by a gust of wind and pushed under the sauce pot, into the flame. I had my back to the stove, but fortunately my nose is very sensitive. By the time Thomas asked if something was burning I was able to say, "Not anymore."

I know I'm not the only one (or, I hope I'm not the only one) who can't manage to keep the kitchen counters clear, so here are a few tips from the NFPA:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
If you have a cooking fire
  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

As I learned today, if it's too hot in your kitchen, maybe it's time to do a little de-cluttering.

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