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Safety first: Summer cooking

With the summer holidays fast approaching, many children across Essex will be spending more time in the kitchen.

But whether they’re lending a hand or simply seeking a snack, it’s important to make sure that they know the hazards of a hot hob.

So as part of the national Fire Kills campaign, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is asking parents and carers to make any kitchen activities a chance for kids to learn this summer.

Will Newman, Head of Prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue, said: “From bake-offs to barbecues, there are lots of creative ways to teach kids about cooking fire safety this summer. And, it’s absolutely vital that they know what to do if the worst should happen.

“So alongside the melting, mixing and making, why not take the chance to pass on your fire safety knowhow? Test your smoke alarms as part of the activity. And remember, never leave a child alone with a hot hob, and help keep them safe by moving matches and saucepan handles out of their reach.”

In Essex, more than half of all accidental fires at home are started by cooking – often because of distractions from phone calls or family – and 12% of kitchen fires start in microwaves!

Almost 20% of all kitchen fires are caused by faulty wiring, so make sure you’re buying approved appliances and check for the CE mark.

Follow Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s cooking safety advice to stay safe in your kitchen:

  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen while cooking. Take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk
  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob.  Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe
  • Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob
  • Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking

Take care with electrics

  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order.  A build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire

Deep fat frying

  • Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash
  • If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot.  Turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • Use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer.  They can’t overheat
  • If your pan catches fire, turn off the heat if it is safe to do so.  Never throw water over it

Outdoor cooking

  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue or any cooking!
  • Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies
  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues
  • Never use a barbecue indoors
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on coal
  • Never leave a barbecue or any cooking unattended
  • Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste
  • Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins.  If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and start a fire

Occasionally, manufacturers may identify problems with a product after it has been in use for some time. By registering with ‘Register My Appliance’ manufacturers can contact you directly to arrange for a faulty item to be fixed or replaced. Registering can also save you money by entitling you to an extended warranty or guarantee period.

It only takes a few minutes to register. And, you can register items up to 12 years old, even if you bought them second-hand. To register your appliances, simply visit: www.registermyappliance.org.uk

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