Fire and Hot Oil Safety in the Kitchen

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By: Thomas Robinson on Jul-31-17

Here is some very important knowledge that can help you keep from being hurt when you work with fire and other hot things around the kitchen.

“The Fat is on the Fire, Beware…”

This is an old and well known saying that means that things are happening, important things that you should pay attention to. This is most literally true around kitchens. Most kitchen fires, and lots of the restaurants that burn down, burn because someone started heating fat or oil and forgot about it. The oil gets hotter and hotter, smokes a bit, and then bursts into flame, and it makes great fuel! A cardinal rule in the kitchen: when “The Fat is on the Fire”, PAY ATTENTION!

Deep Fat Fryers

In addition to being fire hazards from the oil, deep fat fryers have other dangerous traits. One thing to pay particular attention to is never, ever get a glass of water, a drink, or any other liquid that is not cooking oil where it can spill into the fryer. If it does, it turns into steam instantly, and can violently spray hot oil in all directions.

Watch the electrical cord carefully. Don’t leave it where something might snag it, and dump the load of hot oil about. I had a friend once who left the cord to his deep fat fryer across a doorway, and there were kids in the house. One of them ran through the door, and the cord dragged all that hot oil right at him.

Also, be careful even when you add food to a deep fat fryer. If the fat is too hot, or if there are pockets of liquid in the prepared food, the hot fat can spray about.

Steam is Invisible, and Very Dangerous

Steam is often thought of as the cloud of visible vapor that comes out of a teapot. Wrong! The visible part is just the part of the steam cloud that has cooled down to under the boiling point of water and is visible as a cloud of condensed water droplets. Real, live, dangerous steam is water vapor that is above the boiling point of water, often way above it, and escaping confinement. It can be highly pressurized and moving very fast, and is almost invisible as it escapes its confinement. It causes real nasty burns. Be particularly wary of pressure cookers, steam pipes, water into super heated envoirments, and boilers.

As a small, operant reminder of steam, always remember that it will rise out of a boiling pot of water when you take off the cover. Remove the cover far side first so the rising steam doesn’t scald your hand.

Here are some other Burn Safety tips to remember:

  • If you take a hot pan or a cover from the fire and put it on a counter, leave a hot pad on the hot lid or utensil as a warning to the others in the kitchen that it is hot. (And tell them this is the way this message is conveyed.) In many kitchens a dusting of flour on the utensil is the warning that it is fresh off the fire and hot.
  • Always have at least a couple of fire extinguishers available and learn how to use them. Get some professional training in this, the people that service your extinguishers can probably arrange a bit of training, and you should get as much as possible. A good quick person that knows what they are doing can stop a fire in its tracks with an extinguisher. Someone who doesn’t know what they are doing around a good, quick kitchen fire can easily get themselves killed.
  • For an added layer of security, especially if you have children who cook, or have a history of forgetting things, there are some excellent kitchen fire suppression systems available. One that I might recommend is the Guardian III. The Guardian III is a unique, state-of-the-art residential range-top automatic fire suppression system for your home. For more information, visit their site at: Guardian III. Use your “Back” button to return here.
  • Don’t let the pan handles on the stove stick out over the floor. Not only can curious kids get to them, but they can snag on clothing ect and spill. Turn them to the side, but make sure their handles do not extend over adjacent burners.
  • In a professional kitchen, someone should always be trained in first aid. This is also a fine idea for any cook. The American Red Cross gives first aid classes. Always have a first aid kit on hand. Keep it well stocked and know how to use it. Burns are one of the worst hazards in a kitchen. For small burns, an aloe plant is good to have around. For more serious burns, your first aid kit should have professional quality burn medications on hand. Click here to access WaterJel Technologies for information on state-of-the-art medications and burn kits for the home or professional kitchen.

Always try to stay safe, but always be prepared for an emergency.

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