Your kitchen is often the heart of the home, and probably one of its most-used spaces. Still, this amount of use, along the sensitive activities that go on inside, make the kitchen one of the most vulnerable areas within the home, too.
Anyone who cooks understands that cooking is dangerous, and one of the risks it poses to the homeowner is the risk of a house fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that over 166,100 kitchen fires occurred in the U.S. between 2010 and 2014. These fires resulted in over 400 deaths and $1.1 billion in property damages. That’s why anyone who cooks should protect their kitchens from fire risks. Practical fire safety steps will ultimately reduce your overall liability as a homeowner.
Home Insurance Coverage for Kitchen Fires
House fires are usually unpreventable, unplanned and unavoidable. That’s why homeowners insurance policies usually cover the damage and losses that fires might cause. Still, even though fires are covered perils in general, that does not mean that every fire will qualify for a claim.
Home insurers cover household damage based on the principle of unpreventable, unplanned, unavoidable. They do not cover fires that could have been reasonably prevented. Therefore, just because you have a house fire, that doesn’t mean you have a promise of your home insurance covering the damage. If a fire resulted from a clear case of neglect or misconduct in your kitchen, then your policy might not agree to cover your losses.
Therefore, by neglecting or misusing your kitchen, you are putting yourself at a much higher risk of house fires, and at a similarly high risk of having no help from your insurance policy because of it. It is always best to do all you can to minimize kitchen fire risks as best as you possibly can.
Preventing Kitchen Fires with Proper Care
No kitchen is fireproof, but there are numerous simple, practical ways to practice fire safety in the space. Many of these tasks are second nature to most cooks, and the more conscious you remain of them when cooking, the better you can prevent the risk of a fire ever occurring.
- Using too many appliances at once could overload your home’s electrical system. Only use items in your kitchen that fit the home’s outlet and electrical code requirements.
- If you already have malfunctioning electrical systems, then any appliance use could be too much of a burden on these items, and hence a fire risk. Repair these systems as soon as you notice problems.
- Likewise, never use a malfunctioning appliance until you can have it repaired. When trying to make repairs, shut off and unplug the item completely.
- Every appliance has an intended use, and they also have to be used according to the rules of the user’s manual. If you use an appliance in any way other than its intended use, then you are creating a substantial fire risk for yourself.
- If you have a gas system in the kitchen, then keep it in good working order. Make sure that you only use the appropriate gas in the system, keep an eye out for leaks, and never leave the gas running when you are not cooking. Follow the proper steps to both light and extinguish gas flames.
- There might be numerous open flames present in any kitchen. These include gas stoves, broilers, pilot lights, candles and more. Never place rags or other flammable items near these items while they are lit. Extinguish the flame when you leave the room.
- Remember that electric ranges pose fire risks too. The amount of heat contained in the coils can easily cause flammable items to ignite.
- Don’t let someone who isn’t familiar with your kitchen use your appliances without your supervision.
- Never leave your kitchen unattended when you are cooking. Fires can easily spring from unattended oil, hot food or equipment. Make sure pots and pans don’t overflow, and that food does not burn. Burning food can easily spread fire to a flammable surface.
- Regularly clean the kitchen. Keeping a clean stovetop and countertops will help prevent the accumulation of flammable debris in the kitchen. Therefore, you will be depriving a fire of the kindling it might need to get started.
- Keep potentially flammable items away from sources of heat. Store matches, lighters and other flame sources in safe areas.
- Only use indoor-approved items in your kitchen. Don’t try to use outdoor grills, propane tanks or other items inside the home.
- Keep a fire suppressant system in your kitchen. These may include fire extinguishers, fire alarms or even a sprinkler system. or home sprinkler systems. Consider buying appliances that come with built-in suppressant systems.
Some kitchens include professional-grade equipment and very expensive materials. Make sure your home insurance can adequately protect the costs of all items in your kitchen. You might have to increase coverage or add riders to your policy in order to be able to fully insure yourself in this space.
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