A clean oven helps to reduce the risk of a fire in your kitchen. According to figures released by the Essex Fire Brigade more fires start in the kitchen than any other room and around a third of those fires start during cooking. The majority of those fires are caused by the cook becoming distracted, However, a significant number of incidents are caused by the build up of grease and food residue left by an oven not being regularly cleaned. Each time an oven is turned on the grease and food stuck to the oven sides, racks and hob gets heated up. Eventually the grease in particular can become so hot it bursts into flames.
A warning sign that your oven may be overdue some care and attention is if, after cooking, you open the oven door and are greeted by smoke wafting up to greet you. If that happens you may have burnt your roast, but if not, if the roast is fine then the smoke is coming from all the burning bits of food and grease lurking in the oven. If nothing else, the flavour of your roast is not being helped by all of that smoke!
Essex Fire Brigade recommends the following to reduce the risk of a fire disaster in your kitchen:
- Avoid leaving cooking unattended and never leave children in the kitchen alone.
- Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – they can easily catch fire
- Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob
- Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
- Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
- Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily. If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool. Ideally cook oven chips but if you are deep fat frying then use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer – they can’t overheat.
- Never try to cook after a night out drinking. It is far better to grab a kebab on the way home than to attempt to cook while intoxicated.
- Have a working smoke alarm
Prevention is clearly best and there are lots of degreasing oven cleaners available in your local supermarket but if you are not physically able to do the cleaning yourself or do not have the time, please get a professional to do it for you.
In the event that the very worst happens and you discover a fire in your kitchen then
- If it is safe to do so, turn off the heat.
- Close the kitchen door.
- Get out of the house.
- Call 999.
Happy cooking and please be safe.