While working to put three meals on the table each day, it's easy to get carried away with adding some spice or savory flavor to your meal. Unfortunately, general kitchen safety can take a backseat to the menu item of the day. When operating a stove or oven, though, safety and caution is essential. Prevent your home and the chef from kitchen fires and burns with precautions and safety procedures to ensure your meals are tasty and your family’s safety is priority.
Perform a Safety Check
Always perform an oven or stove-top safety check. Check for any gas leaks on a gas stove. If you smell gas, open windows, leave the room and contact your utility company immediately. Check the oven for items. Avoid storing pans or containers in your oven, to reduce the risk of a fire. Remove leftover grease or food particles from the stove top, too, as these can cause flare ups when you're cooking.
Safeguard Your Body
Your clothing and body can cause fire hazards. Always roll up your sleeves, tie back long hair and remove jewelry that can get caught in oven racks or on stove-top burners. Remove hot pans or dishes from the stove or oven and use potholders to protect your skin from burns. Adjust racks before you turn on the heat when setting the oven to preheat, too, to avoid harmful heat.
Use Back Burners
Stove-top burners can increase the risk of fire if you are not careful. Use the back burners instead of the front burners to allow for more distance between you and hot pots. Make sure that the pots used are appropriately sized for the burners and avoid putting empty pans on hot burners. To prevent accidents, turn all handles inward so they cannot be pulled or knocked over.
Take Caution When Cooking
Oil, butter and grease can splatter to nearby surfaces, or even worse—on your skin. Lay food down slowly in the pan and distance yourself as much as possible. Avoid putting clothing, potholders or paper towels near the stove top, too, since hot splatters can spark a fire.
Open Oven Slowly
Open the oven door slowly and stand back so the steam or heat does not hit you in the face. High-heat temperatures or steam cause serious burns to your face or body. When you're removing items from the oven, use a secure potholder to handle hot items and place the hot dish on a towel or place mat.
Promote good health when you're cleaning the kitchen by using natural products that will not add toxic fumes to your home. Make sure the stove top and oven are completely cool before you begin a cleaning project. Mix vinegar and water—optionally, add fresh lemons to the mix—to spray on your stove top and inside your oven. When you're wiping away build-up with a damp cloth, make sure that you do not lean on the oven door, because unsecured appliances can topple. A clean oven and stove top will help reduce the risk of fires sparked from food debris.
Have Safety Equipment on Hand
Even with precautions, a kitchen fire is still a very real possibility. Be prepared by equipping your home with a fire extinguisher to put out small fires. When you're cooking, have baking soda and metal lids nearby to distinguish fires quickly and safely and do not use water to squelch the flames of a grease fire. Install a smoke detector on each level of your home for added protection.
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