Flour may seem harmless, but many people don’t realize that it has a hot temper. Under certain conditions, foods such as flour are highly flammable and can result in fiery kitchen situations.
Flammable food is part of the reason that cooking is the number one cause of home fires in the United States, and the number one cause of all residential fires and injuries according to the US Fire Administration. Poultry cooked in a turkey fryer is an obvious culprit, but the following everyday food can also be a recipe for ruin if not handled properly.
Why it’s risky: This powerful food is packed with lots of natural oil, so it burns quickly and pops when placed in a hot pan, causing oil to splatter into the burner.
Staying safe: Grind it very lightly and slowly.
Why it’s risky: Any protein product that has a high fat content like bacon releases fat when cooked. When the meat burns, it causes the oil to splatter out of the pan.
Staying safe: Do not let the fat run out by making sure the pan is deep enough to contain the fats. Also, if you cook multiple batches of bacon, remove the old fat before cooking a new batch. Pour the oil out of the pan and into a jar or bowl (which should be kept far from the stove).
3. Fried stuffed peppers
Why it’s risky: When stuffed peppers are immersed in frying oil, the airflow is constricted. This pressure can force the peppers to explode and if there are open burners next to the pot of peppers, the oil can fly onto the open flame.
Staying safe: Do not fill the pot all the way with oil. It should only reach halfway up the pot. Also make sure nearby burners are turned off.
Why it’s risky: Powdered goods such as flour, creamer and granulated sugar consist of fine particles that burn if added to a hot pan without anything else in it. Plus, if these items spill into the direct flame, they can ignite.
Staying safe: Just add the powdered ingredients to a pan with another ingredient in it, such as butter. And never throw flour on a pot! (Use baking powder instead.)
5. Alcohol-based sauces
Why it’s risky: It is not uncommon for marsala, sherry and other alcohol-based sauces to flare up. These flames are often controlled, but the danger arises when the bottle is too close to the stove. If the sauce container is next to the flame, the bottle may eventually explode.
Staying safe: To avoid a bottle bomb, keep it away from the stove.
6. Peanut brittle and other ultra-sugary foods
Why it’s risky: If you are cooking sweet dishes like peanut brittle or flan, proceed with caution. When the sugar gets very hot, it can create flames in a flash.
Staying safe: Check the heat and never leave. It’s easy to get distracted, but it’s important to be present in the kitchen.
ERIE offers homoe, car, business and life insurance. For more information on how to protect your home from fire damage, contact your ERIE agent.
Make sure your kitchen doesn’t turn against you
If you follow the guidelines below, you will reduce the risk of a culinary disaster:
- Stay with the food. According to the US Fire Administration, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires. If you leave the kitchen, always turn off the stove.
- Do not let the grease run out. When cooking meat, make sure the pan is deep enough to contain the fats. If the pan is too shallow, the fat can spill over and ignite a fire.
- A dirty kitchen is a dangerous kitchen. The oil from food cakes on the inside of ovens and on hobs. This fat can potentially ignite, so always keep the oven and stove clean.
If a fire breaks out in your kitchen (or in your grill), here’s what you should do:
- Have a lid nearby. If a grease fire starts on the stove, turn off the burner and cover the flames by sliding a lid or even a sheet pan over the pan (while wearing an oven mitt!). Do not try to move the pan; instead, keep the lid on until it is completely cold.
- Do not add water to the grease fire. This causes the grease to splash and spread even faster.
- For fire in oven and microwave, keep the door closed until the fire is out. Unplug the microwave if you can safely reach the plug.
- Post it if you can.
- When in doubt, just go outside. If you encounter a fire and have any doubts about how to handle it, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1. Remember that everything in a kitchen is replaceable except the people who live there.”
A homeowner’s policy from ERIE can protect the items in your kitchen, from the island you chop vegetables on to the stove your partner roasts on. Contact us today to review your coverage or get a quote.