You and your family probably spend a lot of time in the kitchen, whether you're preparing for a holiday gathering or just cooking everyday meals. But as homey and enjoyable as the kitchen is, it is also a dangerous place where fires often originate. Teach every family member safe cooking techniques, and make sure everyone practices general fire safety throughout the home. Everyone should also know what to do if a fire does erupt. Knowledge helps to prevent fires, and it also ensures that everyone knows how to minimize the damage if a fire does happen.
The kitchen is an integral part of most homes, with families spending countless hours preparing meals and snacks. But cooking fires are the top source of home fires and injuries, so it's crucial to pay attention to what you're doing in the kitchen. Watch your cooking processes continually when you're using the stove. Wear clothing that fits close to your arms, or roll your sleeves up. Don't allow combustible items such as hot pads and towels to be near your cooking areas, and always turn pot handles to the back of the stove so you don't accidentally knock over pots. Never put metal in the microwave; this will create dangerous sparks that can start a fire. Don't overfill pots with grease or oil; splattering grease can cause a fire. If spills happen on the stove, clean them up right away to prevent greasy buildup from starting a fire. Keep children away from cooking areas, supervise children when they are cooking, and have a fire extinguisher rated for class K fires in the kitchen. These fire extinguishers are designed to put out fires that involve grease and cooking oils. Know how to use your fire extinguisher, and maintain it regularly so it's ready to use.
The most common causes of home fires include cooking, clothes dryers, other electrical appliances, portable space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves, smoking, flammable liquids, and children and pets. Home fires can become deadly very quickly. A small fire can become a major one in less than one minute, filling a house with flames and smoke. Fires are also unimaginably hot. At eye level, a fire can be 600 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's safer to get down low near the floor, where it's cooler. Fire also creates a very dark environment as the smoke fills up the house; getting down low will help you get underneath the smoke, so you can breathe and see better.
If a fire starts in a home, it may spread so fast that you and your family only have a couple of minutes to escape. Having working smoke alarms installed throughout your home is crucial. Change the batteries twice a year unless you have installed lithium batteries that last longer. Families also need to create an escape plan so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire. Talk with all family members about how to respond in a fire, escape routes, and where to meet outside the house. An escape plan should include two ways to get out of every room in the house. Check all windows to make sure that they are in working order and that you can pop out the screens quickly. If you have security bars on the windows, everyone needs to know how to open them. Practice your escape plan, too. Family members should practice feeling their way out of the house with their eyes closed, since your vision can be severely limited in a fire. Also, teach kids not to hide if a fire happens, so that firefighters can find them quickly.