Cooking with gas: how to prevent a kitchen fire
Updated: May 9
This week, families and friends across the country will sit down to enjoy endless helpings of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. Football will be watched, politics will be avoided (mostly), and the kitchen will see some serious action.
Unsurprisingly, according to the National Fire Protection Association, “Thanksgiving is by far the leading day for home cooking fires." In 2018, the number of home cooking fires was 250% greater on Thanksgiving Day than the daily average for the year.
Kitchen fires, largely caused by unattended cooking, can result in tens of thousands of dollars in damage within minutes. To mitigate the risk of damage from a cooking fire, follow these simple steps – you’ll be thankful!
Never leave a hot kitchen unattended.
The holidays are stressful - especially if you're the host. Most likely, you are running around like a turkey with your head cut off, cleaning the house, making the guest bed, and rushing to the grocery store for the millionth time because you forgot the rolls. In all the hoopla, it can be easy to leave dishes unattended; however, with the majority of home cooking fires attributed to unattended cooking, this mistake can be devasting. To avoid a costly and dangerous kitchen fire, never leave things cooking in the kitchen without a human to monitor the situation.
Turn the handles inward on the stovetop.
From kids to pets, aunts and uncles, your cousin's boyfriend, and your dad's deep fryer for the turkey, the kitchen is a high-traffic area during the holidays. By simply turning pot and pan handles inward on the stovetop, you can lower the risk of damage from a kitchen fire.
Engage safety features on your oven or range.
Newer appliances, including gas and electric ranges, wall ovens, and multifunction toaster ovens, are equipped with advanced safety and smart features to lower the risk of fire damage, such as safety locks, app-controls via smartphone, and even interior oven cameras to check on your food without interrupting the cooking process. Check your user manuals to engage child locks and other safety features, particularly before a big kitchen event, like Thanksgiving.
For all the home chefs out there who take the jazz approach to holiday meals, listen up! Even though you've cooked the dish a thousand times, even though you're fueled by the creative process and never follow a recipe - set timers. With so many balls in the air, it's easy to forget how long the casserole has been in the oven. Decrease the risk of a kitchen fire and set regular timers to check on your meal's progress.
Know where the fire extinguisher is stored.
If you don't already have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen, buy one. Ideally, it will sit and collect dust for years, but, in the event you need to quickly put out a small kitchen fire, you'll be grateful you thought ahead. During the holidays, often there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Be sure these amateur chefs are pros in fire safety.