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How to prevent kitchen fires: cooking at home during COVID-19

By Oluwaseun Olowo-Ake, Canadian Red Cross Digital Volunteer

Being stuck at home has us all trying random new things. There was the sudden obsession with home-made sourdough bread that swept the internet earlier this year, and a lot of people have turned to perfecting a craft. I don’t particularly enjoy being in the kitchen, so my lockdown saw me learning to play the ukulele.Photo of person cooking

If you’re different from me and love the thrill of standing over a hot surface, creating something delicious out of things you pull from the earth, then this post is especially for you! Cooking is one of the major causes of house fires in Canada, so here a few tips to help you stay safe as you do what you enjoy.

First things first, it’s good to have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed and tested every month. They warn you of any potential threats and could quite literally save your life. The fire alarm in my apartment makes the most annoying shrilling sound if even some mist from boiled water gets to it, but at least I know I’ll have lots of time to get to safety if there was an actual fire. Make sure to have the batteries changed twice a year.

Next, keep flammable items such as kitchen cloths away from heat sources. Also, food ingredients like flour, oil, sugar, wine, garlic, orange shavings and cinnamon are flammable so take extra care when cooking with them.

If you like to put something on the stove and leave for a few minutes to finish the last few minutes of an episode of Blacklist (this is actually me), we’ve been advised to stop that. A good tip would be to bring whatever it is that could take your attention away to the kitchen, if it is safe to do so, so that the stove is not left unattended. Something worse than missing the end of your favourite show would be burning your Bolognese or your kitchen/house. Also if you have little chefs at home, talk to them about how dangerous fire can be and how they can stay safe in the kitchen; and make sure they are supervised as they create in the kitchen.
Photo of emergency kit
If you do happen to start a fire while cooking, a good tip is to cover it with the lid of the pot or pan you’re cooking with (one that completely covers it) until it goes out. Covering the fire traps it without oxygen and put it out. Please only do this if it’s a small fire. Call authorities as soon as you encounter a fire that is bigger than you can handle.

Finally, get an Emergency Kit you can use in case of an emergency and keep it somewhere easily accessible.

Happy cooking!
 
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