On the Menu: Electrical Safety in the Kitchen

“No matter where I serve my guests, they seem to like my kitchen best,” is a quote that adorns the walls in the homes of numerous home cooks and bakers.

It’s important for homeowners to know that fires like the kitchen best, too.

Two-thirds of home fires start in the kitchen, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. More specifically, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that unattended cooking is the No. 1 cause of home fires.

“The kitchen is one of the most common places where fires break out,” said Rick Coons, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “Take steps to keep you and your family safe. Teach your children safe cooking practices. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure your family members know how to use it properly.”

Remember that water and electricity don’t mix. The Tennessee Valley Authority reminds us not to operate any electrical appliances with wet hands or when appliances are sitting on wet surfaces, like a wet countertop. Ground fault circuit interrupters should be installed on all electrical outlets that are within six feet of the kitchen sink to prevent electrical shock.

Following electrical safety tips might not be enough to prevent fires, however. Faulty appliances can also be a cause.

“Because electrical equipment can malfunction, it’s a good idea to keep up on product recalls,” said Coons.

Forty percent of home fires are related to cooking equipment; this includes leaving appliances unattended as well as equipment malfunctions. An updated list of appliance recalls can be found at www.cpsc.gov. Past recalls have resulted from dishwashers leaking liquid rinse-aid into circuitry; refrigerator light bulbs staying on after the door was shut; and a mechanism in toasters jamming while toasting.

If a fire does occur in your kitchen, call the local fire department immediately.

If the fire is a grease or oil fire, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends sliding a pan lid over the flames to smother the fire, then turning off the heat and leaving the lid in place until the pan cools. Other food fires should be extinguished with baking soda. Never use water or flour on cooking fires. For an oven or broiler fire, keep the oven door shut and turn off the heat.

# # #

Electrical Safety Foundation International
Consumer Product Safety Commission