Fire Safety Week: Be careful in the kitchen

The Canada Safety Council is reminding all Canadians to be extremely careful

With the holiday season quickly approaching, your mouth may be watering at the thought of turkey, apple pie and mashed potatoes. The season is usually accompanied by a variety of good foods, but it’s also too often marred by tragedy in the form of kitchen fires.

November 24 to 30 is National Home Fire Safety Week and the Canada Safety Council is reminding all Canadians to be extremely careful in the kitchen.

Cooking is the lead cause of home fires in Canada, and the holiday season tends to bring with it a significant amount more of baking, cooking, braising and general oven use.

It’s important when discussing this topic to make the first point abundantly clear: Never leave food unattended on the stove. It doesn’t matter if it’s just for a minute, or for a quick phone call, or for a knock on the door, or even being caught up with children. Cooking requires your full attention because a fire can be sparked very quickly and spread even quicker.

Be proactive and watch your food so in the event of an unexpected fire, you’re able to act quickly and decisively before it escalates.

The key to this, of course, is being prepared to act quickly. If your holiday celebrations have left you a bit inebriated, quick and decisive action may no longer be possible. Consider ordering out rather than cooking.

It’s much less risky than the possibility of not being able to react in time due to dulled reflexes.

Here are some tips on how to handle a fire, should one occur:

• If at any time you feel endangered or unable to control the fire, call the fire department and evacuate the house. Make sure your family knows the fire escape route and they’re able to get out safely.

• In the event of a fire in your oven or microwave, close the door and turn it off. The lack of oxygen will eventually smother the flames and prevent them from feeding and growing.

• Similarly, if your fire happens in a pan, use the oven mitt to clap on the lid then remove the pan from the heat source. It, too, should fizzle out due to lack of oxygen. If you don’t have a lid for it or are unable to put it on safely, use a fire extinguisher and aim at the base of the fire.

• Grease fires can be especially treacherous. Never use water to try and put one out, as the grease will get repelled and risk spreading the fire further. Instead, use baking soda or salt (but never flour,) and use a large wet cloth to smother the fire.

• Never swat at or blow on a fire. Kitchen fires don’t necessarily behave like birthday candles—the air movement is far more likely to spread the fire than it is to put it out.

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