Cooking can be challenging but with lots of practice, it can also be a great experience. You get to develop awesome chef skills and make delicious food. But the more you cook in the kitchen the higher the chances are for something to go wrong.

Last month I’ve experienced my very first small kitchen fire at home. I’ve worked as a weekend cook in a crisis center before and never really experienced a fire. (I might have burned some things here and there, but never seen actual flames before last month’s occasion). Let me tell you what happen. …

It was Sunday evening and I was waiting for my boyfriend to come over so we can have dinner together. He was talking a long time to come so I decided to heat a slice of Indian flatbread in the toaster oven. While heating up the flatbread I was filming an episode of the VEDA (vlog every day in April). I was in the kitchen waiting for the bread to heat up. As I glance over at the toaster oven and noticed flames! I ran to the toaster oven and opened the door to try and get the bread out. When I opened the door the flames got larger, so I quickly closed the door. I unplugged the toaster oven and running around the apartment opening all of the windows so the smoke detector wouldn’t start ringing. Then I went back into the kitchen and opened the toaster oven door. The flames finally went out.

What an experience! First of all, Antony has been telling me for a while that I should get a fire extinguisher and I was kind of nonchalant about it. You best believe that as soon as he came to the apartment, he went straight to Amazon and ordered an extinguisher for me. I’m so thankful that nothing serious happened. I didn’t get burned, the toaster oven looked fine, and the fire didn’t get big and spread. I was pretty shaken up about this and thought it would be a good idea to share some fire safety tips.

1. Don’t Panic

Although our natural instincts are to freak out, it is extremely important not to panic. I slightly panicked when this happened because there was a fire in my building on New Years Day and my upstairs neighbors have two toddlers who are a handful. I was nervous that if there were a fire in my unit the kids would be in danger because the mother probably would not b able to get them out quickly. Luckily for me, my panic move was to open the windows, which may or may not have been a good idea. See in fires sometimes it’s smoke inhalation, not the actual fire that causes deaths. On the other hand, fires need oxygen to spread. So this could have gone anyway.


2. Fire Safety Equipment:

It is important that you have certain fire safety materials in your home. First and foremost a smoke detector! If you live in a building the landlord should provide one for you. If they don’t you can get them at Amzon.com, HomeDepot or any other home improvement store. The price ranges from about $15-$40 depending on how fancy you want to go. There are some detectors that are both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I would recommend putting some extra cash and getting a detector that does both.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that the detector should be at least 10 feet away from the cooking equipment (kitchen). It should be checked at least once a month and the batteries replaced at least 2 a year. It may seem like a lot of up keep, but if you’re in the kitchen often whipping up those amazing dishes, you want to make sure you have a kitchen to cook in.

Fire Extinguisher:
Did you know that there are several different types of fire extinguishers? Yep, different fires call for different type of extinguishers. Fires are broken down into Class A (, B, C, D, and K. Class K are fires that are caused by cooking oils and grease. Extinguishers are labeled based on the class of fire they are suited to fight. There are some extinguishers that are multiple classes. This is the one you want to get. Class K extinguishers are better suited for restaurants. A kiddie-sized extinguisher costs around $25. Place it someplace that is easy to access but not next to the open flames. I have my extinguisher on the floor next to the garbage can. I can get to it quickly if I’m using the stovetop/oven or toaster oven. To use an extinguisher you want to remember PASS: Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Spray, check out this site for more info.
Be sure to read the instructions to know how often to check it and when it’s time to change it.

3. Smother It and Get OUT!

Fires need oxygen to spread. So if there’s a small fire on the stovetop, microwave, or oven, quickly smother it! Put the lid on top of the pan or close the oven door until the fire goes out. What qualifies as small fire, is kind of in the eye of the beholder. Depending on your comfort with fires and the kitchen, you might want to close the door and get out quickly. If you are a bit more experienced you might want to try and maintain it yourself. For me I’ve taken fire safety classes since I was 7 years old. I’ve also taken courses on how to properly use a fire extinguisher and I’ve been around fire often, both during my work in the kitchen and also during my studies in the lab. Because of this I felt comfortable managing the fire in the toaster oven. If had been any bigger I would have gotten out of the apartment and called 911.
Bottom-line, this is no time to be a hero. Safety always comes first.

Random thoughts:

It’s always a good idea to know where your local fire station is. My local station is a block away from home. Some stations do outreach events and programs about fire safety. It would be a good idea to pop in at one of these events. You can get tips from the firefighters.

Always have your important documents like birth certificate and passport in one location that’s easy to grab. Also, have copies of it and give to a trusted person or put in a safety deposit box.

Don’t cook naked! LoL I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I’ll tell you a secret some people cook without a shirt on or wear short shorts etc. Always have something covering your body. Even if you are making scrambled eggs or a dish you make every day, wear an apron!

Here is a link to the National Fire Protection Association. Feel free to check out the site for more details on how to stay safe.

Have you ever had to deal with a small kitchen fire? Do you have a smoke detector? Do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you plan on getting one? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Salut!

2 thoughts on “Fire Safety for Home Cooks”

  1. This was eye-opening and so helpful. It’s something we don’t really think about, but it’s so very important. Getting a fire extinguisher is now definitely on my to-do list.

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