The State Fire Marshal's Office has published tips on cooking safety.

In a press release on Tuesday, the SFMO urged Washingtonians not to be daft or reckless with cooking equipment. Kitchen blazes are not inevitable, says the SFMO; most can be averted entirely with simple common sense.

But misuse of cooking equipment accounts for a staggering percentage - 44% - of residential fires. A third of these fires, according to the press release, are caused by rank negligence - equipment left "unattended." This should go without saying, but please stay awake (and alert) while cooking.

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"Keep your stovetop clean," warns the SFMO. Grease buildup is an accident waiting to happen, or rather, an inferno waiting to ignite.

Flammable items should be handled with the utmost attentiveness and they are never to interact "with any heat source." The same is true of clothing.

Foil and metal are liable to cause sparks, so "do not place [them] in the microwave."

Any home in which food is prepared should be equipped with a working smoke alarm and fire extinguisher. Proper fire extinguisher usage is not instinctual and takes practice: "Know how to use it," instructs the SFMO.

And finally, food handlers should have in place a designated "safe zone" to which they can flee "in case of fires."

As the adage goes, food is a love language. It's a unifying force in the lives of families and couples; what better way to bond (or to reconcile) than over a rib-sticking meal? But all too often, joyous get-togethers literally go up in flames.

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Gallery Credit: Courtlin

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