The kitchen is a gathering place for your family, and the source of delicious creations. However, a kitchen is one of your home’s most vulnerable areas.
A good chef understands a kitchen comes with safety risks, including the risks of fires. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that over 166,100 kitchen fires occurred 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.
Home Insurance Coverage for Kitchen Fires
Most standard home insurance policies cover fire risks in their property damage coverage. Kitchen fires likely have protection in this regard. However, insurance policies often strictly govern what fire scenarios qualify for coverage.
Most home insurance policies require individuals take reasonable precautions to reduce fire risks. If an individual doesn’t maintain the property, this could qualify as home neglect. Neglect might result from unsanitary conditions and a general lack of standard care. A neglected home poses a very high insurance risk because it can increase fire risks.
If a fire occurs because of the negligent actions of the homeowner, this might cause problems when the homeowner tries to file an insurance claim. An insurance company may claim that proper care could have prevented the fire. The insurance company may deny the homeowner’s request for a claim.
Negligent kitchen fires also make the homeowner a higher insurance risk. The insurance company may increase the homeowner’s rates, or even cancel coverage.
Preventing Kitchen Fires with Proper Care
Because negligence can result in kitchen fires, homeowners should treat kitchens with respect. Proper culinary and maintenance practices make a home’s kitchen a safer space.
- Only use items in your kitchen that fit the home’s outlet and electrical code requirements. Don’t compromise your home’s systems by using items that don’t fit electrical requirements.
- Check electrical wiring and outlets throughout the kitchen. Kitchen appliances use a lot of energy. This could easily cause malfunctioning electrical systems to spark, smoke or catch fires. If you suspect electrical problems, have an electrician inspect the home.
- When making repairs to kitchen appliances, shut off the electrical flow. Unplug the systems or shut off the electricity to the entire kitchen. If you notice that an appliance has damage, do not use it. Shut the appliance down, and call a repairman.
- Use your kitchen appliances appropriately. Essentially, only use stoves, microwaves, and other appliances for cooking. Know what items are safe to use on these appliances. If an item is unsafe for stove-top or microwave use, don’t use it.
- If you use a gas system in the kitchen, keep it in good working order. Periodically inspect the system to ensure it has correct pressure and supply. Make sure the system doesn’t leak. If you begin to smell gas when you are not using the system, shut it down until you can have the system inspected. Also make sure that you follow proper procedure when starting gas appliances. Always fully shut down the gas system and the flame when not cooking.
- Keep an eye on open flames in your kitchen. Open flames come from gas stoves, pilot lights, broilers, candles and other appliances. Never keep flammable items like kitchen rags near open flames or other sources of heat. Always contain or extinguish these flames when not cooking.
- 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 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.
- Clean your stove-top, grates, oven and other appliances. Residue, dirt and dust buildup could cause flammable items to contaminate the kitchen. Make sure you only clean your kitchen using approved, non-flammable supplies.
- Utilize safe storage for all appliances, supplies and food in the kitchen. 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 or home sprinkler systems. Many appliances come with built-in suppressant systems.
Take note in your kitchen of how you use it, and the types of appliances you have. 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 for professional-grade kitchens.
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