With all of the time we’re spending at home, and the closures of restaurants during the pandemic, there’s been an increase in how many meals we’re eating at home. With all this time spent in the kitchen, we felt it was a good idea to share insights into how to stay safe while cooking.
The majority of fires at home start in the kitchen. It’s no surprise considering the sources of heat, electrical appliances, and even the use of cooking oils that all get used to make a meal. Keeping three key points in mind, you can continue to enjoy great meals and keep your home safe from accidents.
- Cleanliness is important. With all the extra meals being made, it’s easy to have all the extra mess that comes along with food preparation. Keeping things clean is important both from a food safety standpoint, but also in terms of preventing fires. Food scraps, oil splatter, hand towels and oven mitts can all catch fire if given the chance. Keep your kitchen clean on a regular basis, and launder towels and oven mitts that have absorbed oils and other cooking juices to ensure you keep risks to a minimum. If you have an open stovetop, clean out underneath burners regularly, and do the same in your oven. Just wait until everything has cooled off before you get started. If using cleaners, follow the directions closely and ensure everything is clean and dry before cooking meals again.
- Keep your kitchen tidy. Be sure to put away loose items when not in use. That includes tucking away loose cords and making sure anything flammable is kept away from heat sources. Have a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location and be sure to replace it if it has expired.
- Focus on the food. Make sure that while you’re cooking, you don’t leave anything unattended. If you’re on the sourdough bread train or making other baked goods, make sure you set a timer while baking, and stay close by in case things go wrong. If you’re frying, boiling, or broiling, stay in the kitchen. When cooling with oil, keep temperatures low enough that the oil doesn’t smoke – excess heat can break down the oil and prompt a fire.
- Be ready to act. If something goes wrong, be ready to take action. Have a lid handy to put over a flaming pot or pan and leave it in place until everything has cooled down. The lack of oxygen will snuff out the flames, but a fire could restart if the lid is removed quickly. If you have to, use that fire extinguisher and aim at the base of the fire. DON’T use water to extinguish cooking fires. Greases, oils, and fats are really flammable and will spread quickly if you try to use water to extinguish the fire. If things get out of control, get out of the kitchen and move you and your family to a safe location.
- If you need to put out a fire, just turn off all of the heating elements and unplug any kitchen appliances that can’t be turned off. Let everything fully cool fully before attempting any clean up.
To keep things positive, consider these tips to help out.
- Try new recipes. If you’re cooking something new, you’ll be focused on getting things right, and so naturally be more focused on what’s going on in the kitchen. Just be organized and keep the kitchen clean and tidy as you go.
- Do some food prep. To avoid spending big chunks of every day in the kitchen, prep some things ahead of time to make certain meals easier. Overnight oats, muffins, breads, fillings for wraps are all items that can be prepared in advance and last a few days. One of our favourites is to mash sweet potatoes, throw in some southwest spice and black beans to get a great base for wraps. Add in some greens, cheese, and leftover chicken, beef, fish or pork, all wrapped up in a tortilla, and you’re all set.
- Order in from your favourite place. It’s easy to get tired of cooking after months of only that, so support your local businesses by ordering in a meal or two. You can sit back and enjoy great food with a fraction of the work and help boost your community at the same time.
- Yep, it’s that time of year, and there’s few things like a good backyard BBQ. Be sure to keep things safe as grilling poses risks too and enjoy a break from indoor cooking with an all-outdoors meal.
Enjoy your summer with some favourite recipes and new discoveries and savour great food this summer season!