By Jennifer Astion

On April 2, American Red Cross Volunteer Gordon Williams shared great tips for preventing kitchen fires and dealing with them if they break out in his article Why COVID-19 raises the risk of kitchen fires. Since it looks like we might all be eating at home for a while longer, I would like to suggest a few more ways to prepare your kitchen for frequent cooking.

In our house, the toaster oven is getting twice the usual amount of use while we work from home. If you only use this appliance for toasting and reheating, it simply requires a light cleaning and removing crumbs that could catch on fire.

Splattering and spills in conventional ovens, however, require deep cleaning. Don’t procrastinate too long on this chore. Amy Choi found out the hard way. “The first time I used the self-cleaning setting, it filled my apartment with smoke. I had to turn off the breaker and air out the room for hours,” relates Choi. Plan to stay close by and keep windows open when using the self-cleaning feature on an oven.

Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and have each member of your household become familiar with how to use it as outlined in the American Red Cross Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist.

In addition to a fire extinguisher, consider keeping a fire blanket in your kitchen. This fiberglass cloth can be used to extinguish small fires such as a burning pan on a stovetop.

Kitchen fires happen quickly. I worked in an office where a colleague put a piece of toast in a toaster, left the room, got distracted, and returned to find the kitchen engulfed in flames. If you remember one idea from this article, let it be this simple tip: stay in the kitchen while you are cooking!

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