Pot on fire on a stovetopThree out of ten reported home fires start in the kitchen more than any other place in the house.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 1999, there were 96,200 home structure fires associated with cooking equipment, resulting in 331 deaths, 4,183 injuries and $511.3 million in direct property damage. 

Here are some important fire safety tips for you to consider when cooking:

Avoid wearing loose clothing when cooking, instead wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves. Loose clothing can catch fire if it touches a hot stove burner.

Never use a wet oven mitt. A wet mitt can transfer heat and cause a scald burn to your hand.

Create a three-foot "kid free zone" around the stove. Make sure children and pets stay away from the cooking area.

Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles. 
For example, a toaster fire could spread quickly because cereal boxes and other combustibles are too close to the cooking equipment. Be sure to clean spills - for example, food that spills into a stove burner could burn the next time that you utilize the stove. 

You have a grease fire on your stove, what do you do? 
The preferred method of putting out a grease fire is to put a lid on it. With an oven mitt, pick up the lid and carefully slide the lid over the pan. This will smother the fire. You should also turn off the stove burner. Do not remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never use water to put out a grease fire - water will actually make the fire worse. Also, the National Fire Protection Association does NOT recommend using a fire extinguisher on a grease fire as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually spreading the fire. 

What do you do if you have a fire in your oven?
Keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat. If you open the oven door, flames could burn you or your clothing. Exit your home immediately and call 911. 

What do you do for a microwave fire?
Keep the microwave door shut and unplug the unit if you can do so safely. Immediately notify the fire department by calling 911. Do not use your microwave again until it is professionally serviced. It is important to remember that food and liquids heated in a microwave are dangerously hot and can cause steam burns. For example, be sure to hold microwave popcorn bags where the food manufacturer recommends. It may be safer to use an oven mitt to hold the popcorn bag and just pour the contents into a bowl.

More Information
For more information about cooking fire safety, contact the Cedar Rapids Fire Department at 319-286-5200 or send an e-mail message to our Public Education Division.

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