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Kitchen Safety

Did you know that nearly two-thirds of all domestic fires start because of something to do with cooking. Yet a few simple precautions could easily prevent this.

They say a kitchen is the heart of a home. You can easily go and spend £10,000 in the blink of an eye on a shiny new installation with all the latest appliances such as espresso makers and ovens. It is a part of the house which is considered a major selling point and something any proud home owner is bound to want to show off to their friends and family.

So why not spend another £50 and make the kitchen fire safe? That's right, it costs that little to protect your kitchen.

If you have a young family you will most likely do your best to make it 'child safe' with cupboard and fridge locks as well as safety gates. But have you also considered your own safety? Whether you have young children or not it is a sad fact that most people completely ignore kitchen fire safety.

It's common knowledge that smoke alarms fitted in the home are a major contributing factor to saving lives and if you are not already doing it, you should check they work by pressing the test button weekly. You are more than twice as likely to die in a fire at home if you haven't got a smoke alarm fitted according to UK Governments statistics. That's a figure that should not be ignored. Smoke alarms are cheap and easily fitted. The correct alarm for the kitchen is a heat detector. Optical and Ionisation smoke detectors are not suited for kitchen use as everyday kitchen use will cause them to go off and no one needs a false alarm every time they cook.

A heat alarm works by detecting heat rather than smoke and so is perfectly designed for kitchen use. They contain two metal strips that when they reach a certain temperature bend and form a contact inside the alarm setting it off. Battery as well as mains wired models are available and should be fitted as standard in any kitchen. For any rooms adjacent to a kitchen fit an optical smoke alarm as these will not be accidently set off by smoke from everyday cooking.

Now you have the alarm fitted you should also consider what else you could install in order to protect your family and home.

Well a fire extinguisher is a cheap and easily fitted item that all kitchens should have. For the home a powder fire extinguisher is a good choice due to the fact that it can be used to tackle class A, B, C and electrical fires. Powder fire extinguishers come in various sizes starting from 0.6kg. Although the 0.6kg fire extinguisher can be used in the home (especially in small kitchens because of its compact size) we would normally recommend a 2kg model for the increased fire rating it has. A fire rating on an extinguisher is the measure of the size of fire it can tackle. The higher the rating, the larger the fire it can be used on. The 2kg model should be proficient for any home kitchen fire and it is still a very compact model.

If space is not an issue, a 2kg CO2 fire extinguisher put along side the powder extinguisher is also suitable as it can be safely used on class B and electrical hazards without damaging the electrical goods. Of course don't be put off by the fact that a powder extinguisher causes a mess, it's nothing compared to the mess caused by a fire or the loss of your home. Co2 is the preferred choice in commercial kitchens as well as wet chemical extinguishers for use on cooking oils (class F). A CO2 fire extinguisher is not suitable for use on class A fires involving combustibles such as wood, paper or cloth as it will simply blow them around and spread the fire. This is why powder is often used in the home.

Do not use the fire extinguisher on a chip pan fire or any other involving cooking oils and fats. The only extinguisher that is safe and specifically designed for this is the wet chemical extinguisher. Use a fire blanket instead. The exhaust pressure from a fire extinguisher can cause the oil the spray and spread the fire.

Ensure that the gas supply is turned off when tackling a fire on the hob or oven as you do not want to run the risk of an explosion.

Do not tackle any fire that you are not confident of dealing with. If in doubt, get out and call the fire brigade on 999 immediately. The safety of your family and yourself should always take precedence over your possessions.

An item often overlooked is the humble fire blanket. This is a cheap and easily fitted item that should be part of any fire safety plan. They come in a range of sizes from 1m x 1m to 18m x 1.75m and can be bought in either red or white containers. White is quite popular for home kitchens as it often fits in with most designs. They are available in different containers such as flat pack, POD or CLAM.

They are simple to use and if you have a fire involving a chip pan for example it can be deployed in seconds to put the fire out.

It really is that simple to protect your kitchen. A heat detector, a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket.

Now how about some basic fire safety tips for the kitchen:

Always take extra care with hot oil.
Avoid leaving children alone in the kitchen when cooking.
Make sure you keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.

If you do have a fire in the kitchen, don't take any risks - get everyone out of your home and call 999.