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Prevention of Kitchen Surface Fires

Our topic this month is to keep “Good” things coming out of our kitchens and not bad. So, we’ll be taking a bit about kitchen surfaces as they relate to fire prevention.

Kitchen surfaces collect grease and oil. Counter tops and stoves have appliances that use electricity, and open flames from cooking present their own potential danger. Let’s review:

Grease and Oil and Fats: These substances can settle on kitchen surfaces and appliances. The fire triangle reminds us that for a fire to occur the presence of a fuel source, a heat source and oxygen are required. Grease oils and fats represent the fuel Oxygen is readily available in the air. We cannot cook without heat, so we must consider what surfaces in our kitchen accumulate grease and oil and keep them away from kitchen surfaces.

Fire Triangle GVFD Dec 2023 copy
March 2024 Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinets: To remove grease from non-wood kitchen cabinets, moisten a sponge with water and microwave the damp sponge for about 30 seconds. This now very hot sponge will require the use of dishwasher gloves before picking the sponge up. Next, spray the cabinet with a citrus base cleaner (orange or lemon). Use the hot sponge to remove the grease. Use a paper towel for any remaining grease not removed with sponge.

Range Hoods: A good quality range hood is important to prevent grease  from accumulating in the kitchen. Range Hoods also prevent smoke and other contaminants from accumulating in the kitchen, they minimize fire risk. Range hoods need to be installed 28 to 36 inches from the cook top, and their filters need to be cleaned regularly.


Conventional Gas Stove Use

We turn our attention to cooking style and habits. Let’s examine what specific cooking tweaks can prevent grease fats and oil from contact with hot stoves, and flames resulting in a kitchen fire.

EL SEGUNDO, CA - JUNE 02: The LA City Council unanimously voted to ban gas stoves in new Los Angeles buildings and require only electric stoves and ovens. Cooking columnist Ben Mims tests the difference between the gas burner and electric induction stovetop in the Times kitchen. Photographed on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at LA Times Test Kitchen in El Segundo, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Oil should not be heated past its smoke Have a thermometer available as you heat oil for frying. When frying, avoid splattering.  Cooking fires start when oil reaches 400 to 450 degrees. Oil smoke compounds can be carcinogenic and contain toxic compounds. In the event of a grease fire Immediately turn off the flame source. Open windows for ventilation. Remember not to use water to put out a grease fire. Have a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires within easy reach. Here is a list of the Types of Fire Extinguishers.

March 2024 Cooking Oil with a Thermometer
Close-Up Of Woman Preparing Food In Kitchen At Home

A cooking flame should not be left unattended. In fact, unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires. Always watch your food while it is cooking. We know that oil and water do not mix. Never douse a grease fire with water. This is important especially if you are frying frozen foods. Defrost frozen foods and make sure the food is dry prior to frying.

Other Helpful Hints

  • Lids are very helpful for preventing splattering onto kitchen Use lids on pots and pans whenever possible.
  • Clean up splatter as it Do not let splatter accumulate.
  • Keep combustibles (anything that can burn), away from the flames on the stove.
  • Keep your stove It is recommended to clean your stove every 4 to 6 weeks.

But what about my electric stove?

Electrical Fires can cause very serious harm. Below are safety tips for electric stoves:

Fire Extinguisher Colour codes Feb 2023

Electrical Fires require Type C fire Extinguishers. Type A and B fire extinguishers will not extinguish an electrical fire. For home kitchens a Type ABC extinguisher is the best all-purpose extinguisher to have as they contain compounds for extinguishing three different types of fire including Type C for electrical Please refer to the fire extinguisher chart above in this article.

Know where your electric box is located. This is important for quickly shutting off power to the Electric panels should be clearly labelled. Emergency needs to shut down electricity usually demand quick action.

Resetting tripped breaker in residential electricity power panel

Let’s consider electric outlets: All kitchen equipment, including the electric stove, should be directly plugged into the power Do not use extension cords. This is to prevent overloading the circuit. When outlets are not being used, they should have safety plugs in place. Prongs should never be forced into a plug. For instance, a 3-prong plug should not be placed in a 2-prong hole.

Routinely check wall outlets, plugs, cords, and Replace damaged parts immediately.

Finally, electrical appliances should not be placed near the edge of the sink,  or other areas that have water. 

The above recommendations are focused on fire prevention related to kitchen surfaces. The National Fire Protection Association declared Cooking Safety as its theme for National Fire Protection Month in October 2023. This choice reflected the data showing that kitchen fires are the number one cause of all home fires.

Our Fire Safety articles for March and October 2023 addressed the topic of kitchen safety. These articles and all our safety articles can be found on our website by pressing menu and selecting “Tips to Keep You Safe”.

We conclude with an Irish Proverb: “Laughter is brightest where food is good.”

Preparing that food without mishaps contributes the smiles of those we cook for.