AUTHOR: LisaMarie Sinatra

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February, the month of love ... and kitchen safety!

I came across a great little article today in the Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser (out of England) called "Make sure you guard against fire this Valentine's Day." It caught my eye because of its focus on kitchen fire safety in the month of February. So, okay, maybe we don't celebrate Pancake Day or National Chip Week here in the States this month, but we do celebrate Valentine's Day which beckons plenty of bakers and would-be home chefs to take a stab at putting together creative and tasteful dishes for the ones they love.  According to the article, the Brits love their fish and chips so it stands to reason that during National Chip Week (February 16 - 22 for those who want to partake), the risk of a cooking fire accident increases because of the many hot, oily pans used. Well, the same can be said for those of us doing a bit of frying here in our own homes. Let's face it, cooking with hot oil can be dangerous any time, anywhere, if you don't follow a few important rules: Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop. Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot. Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing. Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter. Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time.  So no matter what kitchen you find yourself in this month, and especially on Valentine's Day, if you plan on creating a meal that includes hot oil, please play it safe and focus on the task at hand (ahem, cooking!). Save the gifts and kisses for after the dishes are done! Happy Valentine's Day everyone! For more information about cooking fire safety, check out NFPA's Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage today.

Slow cookers, crockpots and (small) appliance fire safety, oh, my!

No matter where you look these days, the use of slow cookers and crockpots are on the rise. From stews to soups and even desserts, there's nothing better than applying that “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to preparing meals for families on the go. But did you know that while slow cookers are generally safe, we still need to be mindful of the dangers they pose. According to NFPA, slow cookers were involved in an estimated average of 150 reported home structure fires per year from 2007 - 2011, resulting in an average of 10 civilian injuries and $2 million in direct property damage annually. In terms of accidents, it ranks up there with other smaller household appliances you may not ever think of like your coffee maker or teapot, food warmer and hotplates, and kettles. While the chance of an accident happening while using a slow cooker or crockpot is somewhat low, our fire safety experts here at NFPA suggest some great tips to consider whenever you're using some of these smaller appliances: Inspect plugs and cords to make sure they are not frayed or broken (replace if necessary), which will help keep electrical fires at bay Keep the crockpot and slow cooker (or other small appliance) away from the edge of the counter so hands and elbows don't push it off the edge causing burns or scalds from the hot liquid and food inside Follow instructions for recipes carefully using the right amount of liquid and heat when preparing your meal to prevent overheating So the next time you find yourself using your slow cooker (and if you're like most of us here in New England these days, you're probably using it regularly to ward off the cold!) follow these simple tips above to keep yourself and your family safe. Learn more about kitchen fire safety on NFPA's Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage. Interested to learn about this and other cooking equipment fires? NFPA's Home Structure Fires by Equipment Involved in Ignition report can be found in our research/reports section of the website.
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