The kitchen is the heart of many homes around the world. It is here that families gather to cook and eat, all the while swapping stories and discussing their dreams and aspirations. As such, it is no wonder that many people will tell you that the kitchen is the most used room in their entire house. However, the kitchen also has the dubious distinction of being the room from which most house fires originate. Between the years 2007 and 2011, 43 percent of all house fires were caused by cooking equipment. In light of this, one must be very diligent when in the kitchen, as it is potentially the most dangerous room in the entire house.

Understanding fire sources

Cooking fires can have many causes, however, they can be contained quickly once one knows a thing or two about how they start. Oil, fat and grease are the most common ingredients known to start cooking fires. This is because they are capable of sustaining high heat and thus are often subject to overheating, causing them to ignite and burn violently. The most important thing to remember is that when a pan ignites you should turn off the heat source and leave the pan alone. Fire requires three things to sustain itself: heat, oxygen and fuel. In cooking fires, oil, fat or grease are most often the fuels, but once they burn out, the fire will dissipate. Many make the mistake of trying to lift the pan off the heat source and move it to the sink. Doing so only increases your risk of splashing burning oil all over your kitchen or, even worse, your body. This allows the fire to spread and cause much more destruction than if you had just left it alone and allowed it to die of its own accord.

Reactive measures

That being said, sometimes a cooking fire will break out that requires more serious attention to contain it. Smoke alarms are essential elements of fire safety. Even better are smoke detectors that are monitored. In the case of grease fires, do not ever try to use water to put them out, doing so will only spread the burning oil and multiply the destruction. Baking soda is effective at smothering a burning oil, though it takes a lot to be effective. A heavy, metal lid will cut off the oxygen supply, causing the fire to burn itself out. As a last resort, don’t hesitate to use a fire extinguisher, though be warned that doing so will contaminate everything in your kitchen that gets sprayed.

In the end, never let the fear of a cooking fire keep you from making frequent use of your kitchen. Just always be certain to keep an eye out for the possibility of fire in order to minimize the risk.