People love to cook. Aside from being a necessity (we all have to eat, right?), cooking is also a form of hobby for some people. It is mouth-watering just imagining a fresh cooked stew or a hot newly-fried chicken.

But did you know that cooking is the number one cause of residential fires? Leaving a pot or pan cooking over the stove is the main cause of fire, but there are also other kitchen causes that are less obvious.

So how do you avoid kitchen fires?

1. Don’t leave your cooking unattended. It might be tempting to do the laundry or run a couple of errands while cooking, but doing so is extremely dangerous. You’ll never know what could happen while you’re away. If you have to step out, turn off the stove first and remove whatever you are cooking. Same with the oven. Remove whatever you have cooking in the broiler before going out.

2. Watch your clothes. Long sleeves, aprons and large clothes can easily catch fire. Be mindful of what you wear when cooking. Wear short-sleeved or sleeveless clothes and keep your shirt tucked in to prevent them from catching fire.

3. Keep things away from the stove top. Your stove is going to be very hot and anything near it might catch fire. Be sure that kitchen towels, rags, mitts and other items are far away from the stovetop as much as possible.

4. Your fire extinguisher is your best friend. In case a fire breaks out, having a fire extinguisher nearby can be a life saver. It can control fire and prevent it from spreading.

5. Don’t forget to change the batteries of your fire alarm. It is not enough to have smoke alarm installed at home or in your kitchen. You have to make sure that they are working by changing the batteries regularly.

6. Dispose of hot grease properly. Don’t throw them in the trash can. Aside from the possibility of causing something to catch fire, hot grease can also cause burns if people get near it or accidentally spills the trash.

7. Don’t leave your candles lit. If you’re looking for a romantic dinner and wants to use candles, make sure to put them out immediately after eating. Open flames like can cause easily cause fire. You can also choose to use digital candles so you don’t have to worry about the flames.

8. Know how to put out a fire. Fires can happen anytime, anywhere so it is best to be prepared in case a fire indeed breaks out. Understand what the different types of fires are and what you can do to control them. For example, electrical fires should not be doused with water. Don’t pick up a burning pan and don’t splash water on it. What you can do instead is cover the burning pan with a lid to smother the flames.

9. Practice your fire escape plan. Discuss your fire escape plan with your family and practice it at least every 2-3 months. Also have your local fire department’s number on speed dial in case of emergency.

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