Preventing home cooking fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. Every year people are injured and killed in fires at home than anywhere else, and cooking fires cause the most injuries by far. In fact, in 1995, 97,400 home cooking fires caused 279 civilian deaths, 4,735 civilian injuries, and $358 million in property damage. The NFPA suggests taking the following steps to prevent cooking fires in the home:

  • Always keep an eye on food being heated. Unattended cooking causes the majority of fires in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the heat.
  • Keep children away from appliances when cooking. Enforce a “kid-free zone” around the stove and teach youngsters not to play in that area. If you allow older children to cook, supervise them closely and teach them safe cooking practices.
  • Dress appropriately for cooking. Wear short or tight fitting sleeves when cooking and use caution when working near heat sources.
  • Try not to reach over the stove. You can avoid this by not storing items you use directly over or behind the stovetop.
  • Turn handles inward so pots and pans won’t be pulled or knocked off the stove. Take precautions and turn handles away from danger.
  • Keep the stove-top clean and clear. Keep food and grease from building up by cleaning often and keep things that can catch fire, like pot holders or wooden utensils, away from heat.
  • Carefully monitor hot oil , keeping the pan lid close at hand. Guard against splattering grease by lowering food into oil with utensils; don’t just drop it in. Know what to do in case a grease fire occurs.
  • If you’re cooking with oil and it ignites , don’t throw water on the fire. Don’t try moving the pan either. Turn the burner off and smother the fire with a pan lid. If this doesn’t work, leave the house and call the fire department.
  • If you have a fire in your microwave oven , close the door to the microwave and unplug it. Don’t use the microwave again until you’ve had it serviced.
  • Do not put any metallic materials in the microwave oven , which may cause sparks and eventually damage the microwave.
  • Keep an “ABC” dry chemical fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
  • Use caution with electrical appliances. Plug one appliance into an outlet at a time. Have appliances with frayed or cracked cords repaired before use. Keep heat-producing appliances away from walls and curtains. Be extra careful when working around water. Never stand in or near water when using electrical appliances.
  • Keep appliance cords as short as possible to avoid accidents such as tripping or knocking the appliance over.
  • Keep appliances in proper working order. Avoid using them if they are defective.
  • Always have hot pads and lids ready when cooking. You may need them if you experience a small pan fire.
  • Keep emergency numbers by the telephone – police, fire, poison control, and doctor.
  • Prevent boil-overs by not overfilling pots. Use recommended temperatures instead of increasing the heat to reduce cooking time.
  • Use a burner that’s the appropriate size for the pan you’re using.