I came across a great little article today in the Eastwood & Kimberley Advertiser (out of England) called "Make sure you guard against fire this Valentine's Day." It caught my eye because of its focus on kitchen fire safety in the month of February. So, okay, maybe we don't celebrate Pancake Day or National Chip Week here in the States this month, but we do celebrate Valentine's Day which beckons plenty of bakers and would-be home chefs to take a stab at putting together creative and tasteful dishes for the ones they love.
According to the article, the Brits love their fish and chips so it stands to reason that during National Chip Week (February 16 - 22 for those who want to partake), the risk of a cooking fire accident increases because of the many hot, oily pans used. Well, the same can be said for those of us doing a bit of frying here in our own homes. Let's face it, cooking with hot oil can be dangerous any time, anywhere, if you don't follow a few important rules:
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time.
So no matter what kitchen you find yourself in this month, and especially on Valentine's Day, if you plan on creating a meal that includes hot oil, please play it safe and focus on the task at hand (ahem, cooking!). Save the gifts and kisses for after the dishes are done! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
For more information about cooking fire safety, check out NFPA's Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage today.