What To Know About Fire Prevention In The Kitchen

Karin Carr, Owner
Published on November 30, 2020

The pandemic has wrought many changes to life for the average American. More people are gardening, swimming pool installations have skyrocketed, and certain household items, such as sanitizing wipes, are still hard to find at the supermarket.

Cooking at home has increased by 54% and, with it, kitchen fires have too. A recent report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) finds that cooking fires are the biggest cause of fires in homes. They rank second when it comes to fire deaths.

“The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking,” according to the experts with NFPA.

We thought this would be the perfect time to remind you of some basic fire prevention in the kitchen tips.

How to avoid kitchen fires and injuries

  • Never cook when you are overly tired or intoxicated.
  • Nearly 15% of kitchen fire deaths are the result of clothes catching fire while cooking. Avoid wearing long, loose sleeves and reaching into the cupboard above the stove while cooking.
  • Remain in the kitchen while you are cooking on medium to high heat.
  • Check on slow-cooking food frequently.
  • Keep flammable items, such as kitchen towels and hot pads, away from the stove.
  • Wipe up spilled food and grease so that it doesn’t catch on fire.
  • Keep children and pets away from the stove and never hold a child while cooking. The NFPA suggests creating a “kid-free” zone of at least 3 feet around the stove.
What To Know About Fire Prevention In The Kitchen

If you have a cooking fire

  • Leave the kitchen immediately.
  • If there is a door to the kitchen, close it behind you.
  • Gather others in the home and move outdoors.
  • Dial 911 once you are safe.
  • If the fire is in the oven, turn it off and keep the door closed to smother the flames.
  • The experts at NFPA suggest that you “Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.”

Considerations for the safety of cooking with oil

  • Never leave the kitchen while frying on the stove.
  • Keep track of what you’re frying. Turn off the burner as soon as you notice smoke wisps or the smell of oil, and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. The presence of smoke indicates that the oil has become too hot.
  • Slowly bring the oil to the desired temperature for frying or stir-frying.
  • Add food to the pot or pan carefully so that the oil does not splatter.
  • Always keep a lid nearby when cooking. If there is a fire, cover the pan with the lid and switch off the stove. Because removing the cover could reignite the fire, do not remove it. Allow the pan to cool for an extended period of time. Never add water to a fire.
  • If the fire cannot be put out or you do not feel safe covering the pan with a lid, evacuate the home. Outside, call the fire department.

Data on cooking fires

Based on annual averages from 2014 to 2018:

  • Food or other cooking materials ignite to cause two-thirds of home cooking fires.
  • Less than 1% of these fires had clothing as the initial source of ignition, but clothing ignitions were responsible for 8% of the home cooking fire fatalities.
  • Three-fifths of cooking fire incidents at home occur on ranges or cooktops.
  • One-third of reported home cooking fires and more than half of the deaths that result from them are caused by unattended equipment.
  • The primary cause of cooking fires is frying.

As we head into the holiday season, keep in mind that most home cooking fires occur at Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to the NFPA survey. Make sure to note these fire prevention in the kitchen tips!

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