Saint Louis University

Cooking Safety

Keep Heat Sources Away from Things That Can Catch Fire

  • Keep anything that can catch fire -- potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains -- away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

Watch What You Heat

  • The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the apartment while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
  • Stay alert! You won't be alert if you are sleepy.  Drinking alcohol or taking certain medications can make you drowsy.

Prevent Scalds and Burns

  • To prevent spills due to overturned appliances containing hot food or liquids, use the back burner when possible and turn pot handles away from the stove's edge. All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges.
  • Use oven mitts or potholders when removing hot food from ovens, microwave ovens or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders as they can cause scald burns.
  • Replace old or worn oven mitts.

Install and Use Microwave Ovens Safely

  • Place or install the microwave oven at a safe height, within easy reach of all users. The face of the person using the microwave oven should always be higher than the front of the microwave oven door. This is to prevent hot food or liquid from spilling onto a user's face or body from above and to prevent the microwave oven itself from falling onto a user.
  • Never use aluminum foil or metal objects in a microwave oven. They can cause a fire and damage the oven.
  • Heat food only in containers or dishes that are microwave safe. 
  • Open heated food containers slowly away from the face to avoid steam burns. Hot steam escaping from the container or food can cause burns.
  • Foods heat unevenly in microwave ovens. Stir and test before eating.

Choose the Right Equipment and Use It Properly

Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

  • Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
  • Follow manufacturers' instructions and code requirements when installing and operating cooking equipment. 

If you experience a cooking fire that is out of your control exit the area immediately and contact the Department of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness at (314) 977-3000 for fire assistance.  Advice them of the location and if everyone is safely out of the area.  Follow the instructions found under Fires.

Modified from U.S. Fire Administration information

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