Stay Focused, Stay Safe!

The NFPA’s first big tip for safe cooking is to “Stay Focused on the Food!”  As we shared yesterday, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires and often leads to fatalities.

The NFPA has these practical ideas if you are easily distracted or have a hard time staying near the stove:

  • Turn off the burner if you leave the kitchen for any amount of time, especially if you are frying food.
  • If you are slow cooking any food on the stovetop or in the oven, be sure to stay home and check on the food often.  Set a timer in the kitchen to go off every five minutes at minimum if you think you could forget.  Reset it as soon as you check on the food so you remember to come back again.
  • Set an alarm on your phone, wear an apron, or carry around a wooden spoon as a reminder that you are cooking.
  • If you are sleepy for any reason, order delivery instead of cooking.  Unattended cooking fires can often happen when the residents of the home have fallen asleep!  Save that glass of wine to have with dinner instead of beforehand if it tends to make you drowsy.

If boredom or loneliness compel you to leave the kitchen, here are some tips for you:

  • Pick a podcast that you enjoy and reserve for cooking, so you have something to look forward to while you’re in the kitchen.
  • Ask friends or family to help with the meal prep.  Put out a few light snacks to encourage them to stick around when they are done helping.
  • Pull up a stool or add a comfortable place to sit close to the kitchen so others are more likely to hang out near the kitchen with you.
  • Make a YouTube playlist of short videos you can watch while you’re cooking.  Use the break in between videos as a reminder to stir the food or check the oven.
  • Buy a new book or magazine that you can only read in the kitchen!  Use chapter or section endings as a reminder to look up at the food once and a while.

If discomfort plagues you, these things can help:

  • Wear sneakers or shoes with a cushioned heel while on your feet cooking.
  • Buy a thick, rubber mat for the kitchen.
  • Keep hooks in your kitchen where you can hang outer layers if you get hot while cooking and where you can keep your apron.
  • Also, keep hair ties or a bandana in a nearby container to keep hair and sweat out of the way if the hot stovetop makes you too warm.
  • Pour a big glass of water before you start cooking, add a straw in case you have dirty hands, and sip often.  This will keep you hydrated and less likely to reach for that glass of wine!

Finally, if you just don’t enjoy being in the kitchen, work on making it your sanctuary!  Add decor that makes you happy, plug in speakers so you can easily play your favorite music, organize the space so it is peaceful and easy to use, or deep clean it so you are not stressed out by any long-forsaken messes.  Anything that encourages you to stay IN the kitchen instead of looking for a way out when cooking!

We hope this first tip helps you start practicing fire safety in the kitchen!  Stay tuned tomorrow for the next big tip.