Given our culture’s obsession with multitasking, it can be hard for time-crunched families to focus on doing one thing at a time. So walking the dog while the ziti is heating up in the oven makes sense, right? Before you grab your house keys and Bailey’s leash on your way out the door, consider this:
Cooking fires kill more than 3,000 people every year, injure more than 13,000 and cause more than $5 billion in property damage.
The biggest cause of kitchen fires? Nationwide points to the unattended stove. So why not hang out in your kitchen while you cook? Instead of tackling an errand away from home, you could get a head start on washing the dishes. Walking (or driving) off is just not worth the risk.
To find out what to do before, during and after a fire, go to FEMA.org and click on “Fire.” This governmental group also offers information on how to teach children as young as 3 to follow a home escape plan.
Information provided by Nationwide Insurance, which Ohio Farm Bureau founded in 1926 and has sponsored continuously for more than 80 years. For more safety tips on fire prevention and other life-saving ideas, visit Nationwide’s website.
Here are some other suggestions offered by Nationwide to avoid a fire while you cook:
- Don’t set your groceries – or anything else – on the stove. Even though it can act as extra counter space, your stovetop should stay clear. After unpacking your food from the market, you might not notice the plastic grocery bag or macaroni box too close to the burners as you switch gears to prepare dinner.
- Set a timer. Whenever you light a burner or the oven, set a kitchen timer to go off in case you are distracted and forget.
- Keep kids and pets 3 feet away from the stove. And use the back burners when you can to keep pans from getting knocked off by children. If you use the front burners, keep the handles turned inward.
- Keep your oven and stovetop clean. As grease and food residue build up, they can catch fire from the heating elements. So wipe up the juice from your last apple crisp or the mozzarella from your last pizza before you preheat the oven again.
- Think safety. Buy an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher and put it within grabbing distance of the stove. (In a pinch, you can use baking soda.) And install a smoke detector near the kitchen. According to the American Red Cross, it will reduce your chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
- Cook smart. When you cook, use the correct size pot for what you’re making to avoid food boiling over onto the stove. Use the appropriate size burner for your pan and heat cooking oil slowly over moderate heat while you supervise.
- Never use the oven or stove range to heat your home. A gas oven could cause carbon monoxide poisoning, and a forgotten electric oven can overheat and cause a fire.