How Not to Start a Kitchen Fire in Your Apartment

Has your smoke detector gone off one too many times while you’ve been making dinner? Are you prone to overdone pan-fried dishes or burnt casseroles? If you’re no Julia Child, there might be more than your dinner’s deliciousness at stake—you might be an apartment fire hazard. But don’t worry! Lest you live in fear of igniting your next meal, keep these 7 tips in mind and avoid starting a fire in your kitchen.

1. Pay Attention to Your Timer
Always use a timer to check your food regularly and keep it from overcooking or burning. It’s easy to forget about something simmering on the stove or slow-roasting in the oven, so whether you set a timer on your smartphone or use a good old-fashioned egg timer, keep track of your cook time.

2. Decrease Clutter
Keep oven mitts, paper towels, dishtowels, wooden spoons, sponges, and anything else that is flammable clear of an open flame or hot burner. Even in the hustle and bustle of cooking a big meal, be sure you pay attention to where you set your cooking implements; one rogue oven mitt could put the kibosh on your dinner.

3. Don’t Ignore Your Smoke Detectors
We have been taught from a young age that smoke detectors are our first line of defense against a fire. And we all know we’re supposed to change the batteries out twice a year. So while it may be easy to simply take the batteries out and leave the smoke detector when it starts to beep, it’s a sure way to make your apartment susceptible to fires.

4. Don’t Leave the Stove Unattended
One of the easiest ways to start an apartment fire is to leave something on the stove unattended. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the number one cause of kitchen fires is leaving your food unattended when it’s cooking on the stove.

5. Dress the Part
Avoid wearing baggy clothes and long, flowing sleeves when you’re cooking in the kitchen. Loose clothing is extremely susceptible to catching fire because it’s easy to brush against a hot stovetop or oven.

6. Clean Your Stove
Has it been awhile since you gave your stove a good scrub? Clean your stove regularly, and be sure to wipe up any spills or spatterings on your stovetop at the end of every use, because grease and food buildup are very flammable.

7. Wait to Throw Grease Out
One of the easiest (and scariest!) ways to start a kitchen fire is to throw your grease in the trash when it’s still searing hot. That grease will heat up anything flammable in your trash can and turn the whole thing into a real fire hazard. Wait until it cools before disposing of grease after cooking.

What to Do About an Apartment Kitchen Fire
If you do accidentally start a fire in your apartment’s kitchen, smother it by putting a lid over the pan or stovetop, use a fire extinguisher, or turn the heat off and wait for the fire to go out. Never, ever throw water on a grease fire, as it will only increase the intensity of the fire. If it’s a small grease fire, throw baking soda on it; otherwise, smother it or use a fire extinguisher.


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