Stay safe in the kitchen

kitchenCooking causes more accidental fires and associated casualties in the home than anything else. The 2011-12 fire statistics report that cooking fires make up half of all accidental fires in the home in England – 15,509 out of 30,709 (50.5%). Fires from cooking appliances also account for over half of all non-fatal accidental dwelling fire casualties – 3,325 out of 6,335 (52.4%).

Fire Kills, the UK Government’s fire safety campaign, works with the fire services around the country on raising awarenessand each month highlights particular issues. In February it is ‘Cooking’

Here is some of the advice offered:

•  Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob.  Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
•  Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
•  Take care if wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
•  Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
•  Double check the cooker is off when cooking is finished..
•  If the kitchen is unoccupied whilst cooking, take pans off the heat or turn the heat right down to avoid risk.
•  Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily.
•  Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash.
•  If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot.  Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
•  Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer – they can’t overheat.
•  Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
•  Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order.  A build up of fat and grease can easily lead to a fire.

Smoke alarms are too sensitive to install in the kitchen so instead heat alarms are recommended. These devices are designed to respond when the convected thermal energy of a fire increases the temperature of a heat sensitive element. Heat alarms are used in rooms where smoke or mist are frequently parts of the normal atmosphere, such as kitchens or garages, and consequently ionisation or optical smoke detectors would not be effective. To maximise protection heat alarms should be interconnected with smoke alarms in the property.

If a pan fire starts the advice is to, if safe to do so, turn off the heat, get out and call the emergency services. NEVER try and put it out with water.

The only types of fire extinguishers that can be used on deep fat fryer fires are wet chemical extinguishers or ‘dry’ water mist extinguishers.

‘Dry’ water mist extinguishers are relatively new on the market and have a unique ‘supersonic nozzle’ which creates a microscopic mist curtain, reducing the oxygen content and creating a highly effective cooling blanket on the burning material. There are no chemicals involved so any food in the vicinity will not be harmed.