Kitchens, Cooking and Fire Safety

Small fires aren’t that uncommon in the modern household or in any place with an oven and/or stovetop. According to fire safety experts, the No. 1 cause of all cooking fires is leaving the stove unattended. People often walk away from a hot stove “just for a minute,” and that “minute” can lead to significant home damage or worse.

Whether you're preparing a meal or making a quick snack, practicing safe cooking in the kitchen can help keep members of your household safe.

Practice Safe Cooking

  • Never leave your stove unattended while cooking. Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food. If you have to leave the room—even for just a moment—turn off the stove.
  • Keep your cooking area free of combustible materials. Keep anything that can catch fire, such as food packaging, oven mitts and towels, away from your stovetop.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. This way, they can’t be bumped into.
  • Keep cooking equipment clean. Crumbs in a toaster, built-up grease on the stovetop and excess dust behind your appliances are fire hazards.
  • Never throw hot grease in the garbage. Let grease cool before disposing of it in the garbage. Never pour grease or oil down the drain.
  • Avoid using kitchen appliances if you're sleepy or have consumed alcohol. Unplug smaller appliances when not in use such as toasters, blenders and air fryers.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure you have the correct type of extinguisher and know how to properly use it.
  • Keep oven and microwave fires contained. Turn off the heat and keep the door closed until the flames are completely out.

Using a Fire Extinguisher

Fortunately, fire extinguishers can help fires from escalating if you have the right kind at the right place at the right time.

Keep at least one fire extinguisher near your kitchen, where most common house fires start. Another near the exit of your home can ensure a safer getaway if flames are close to your home’s entry points. 

According to the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), multipurpose, or ABC, extinguishers are recommended for home use. The “A” signifies the device can extinguish fires from wood, cotton and cloth; the “B” means the extinguisher fights fires from flammable liquids like cooking sprays; and the “C” indicates it will put out fires resulting from live electricity.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers aren’t difficult to use. OCFA offers helpful information and urges homeowners to remember the PASS technique for using one:

  • Pull the pin
  • Aim at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the lever slowly
  • Sweep from side-to-side

Click here to watch an instructional video from OCFA on how to use a fire extinguisher.

Click here to view OCFA flyers on fire safety, available in Chinese, English, Farsi, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.

If you cannot safely extinguish a fire, get outside quickly, close the door behind you to contain the fire, and call 9-1-1.

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