The most common cause of electric stovetop fires is food or grease buildup on the burners or drip pans. This can ignite when the stovetop is turned on, creating a fire hazard. Other possible causes include faulty wiring, damaged heating elements, or improper use of the stovetop. In this article, we will explain how to prevent and handle electric stovetop fires, and what to do if you experience one.
How to prevent electric stovetop fires
The best way to prevent electric stovetop fires is to keep your stovetop clean and well-maintained. Here are some tips to follow:
- Wipe off any spills or splatters from the stovetop after each use. Use a damp cloth or sponge and a mild detergent. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scouring pads that can scratch the surface or damage the heating elements.
- Remove and wash the drip pans regularly. These are the metal trays that catch any drips or spills from the burners. You can soak them in hot water and dish soap, or use a commercial cleaner designed for drip pans. Rinse and dry them thoroughly before putting them back.
- Check the heating elements for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any cracks, breaks, or corrosion, replace them as soon as possible. Do not use the stovetop until the heating elements are fixed or replaced.
- Inspect the wiring and cords for any fraying, exposed wires, or loose connections. If you see any problems, contact a qualified electrician to repair or replace them. Do not attempt to fix them yourself, as this can be dangerous and void your warranty.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper use and care of your stovetop. Do not use oversized pots or pans that can block the airflow or overheat the burners. Do not place flammable items such as paper towels, oven mitts, or plastic utensils near the stovetop. Do not leave the stovetop unattended when it is in use.
How to handle electric stovetop fires
If you encounter an electric stovetop fire, do not panic. Here are some steps to take:
- Turn off the stovetop and unplug it from the power source. This will cut off the electricity and stop the fire from spreading.
- Smother the fire with a lid, a baking sheet, or a metal cookie sheet. Do not use water, as this can cause an electric shock or spread the fire. Do not use a wet cloth, as this can create steam that can burn you. Do not use flour, baking soda, or salt, as these can react with the fire and create a bigger flame.
- If the fire is small and contained, let it burn out on its own. Do not try to move the pot or pan, as this can spill the burning contents and spread the fire. Do not touch the stovetop or the cookware until they are completely cool.
- If the fire is large or out of control, get out of the house and call 911. Do not try to put out the fire yourself, as this can put you at risk of injury or death. Let the professionals handle the situation.
What to do after an electric stovetop fire
After an electric stovetop fire, you should take some precautions to ensure your safety and prevent further damage. Here are some things to do:
- Check for any injuries and seek medical attention if needed. Even if you do not see any visible burns, you may have inhaled smoke or fumes that can affect your lungs or eyes. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Assess the damage and contact your insurance company. Take pictures and document the extent of the fire and the items that were affected. Keep any receipts or invoices for any repairs or replacements. Your insurance company may cover some or all of the costs, depending on your policy and the cause of the fire.
- Clean and disinfect the stovetop and the surrounding area. Use a mild detergent and water to remove any residue or stains. You may need to use a degreaser or a specialized cleaner for stubborn spots. You may also need to replace the drip pans or the heating elements if they are damaged. If the stovetop is beyond repair, you may need to buy a new one.
- Test the stovetop before using it again. Plug it in and turn it on to see if it works properly. If you notice any sparks, smoke, or unusual noises, turn it off and unplug it immediately. Contact a qualified electrician or the manufacturer for further assistance.
Electric stovetop fires can be scary and dangerous, but they can be prevented and handled with some simple measures. By keeping your stovetop clean and well-maintained, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and knowing what to do in case of a fire, you can reduce the risk of injury and damage. Remember to always be careful and vigilant when using your stovetop, and enjoy your cooking safely.