According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States! Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
Fortunately, the vast majority of home cooking fires and cooking injuries are highly preventable. Cooking with caution and staying alert will go a long way, but human error is always there to sneak in when it gets the chance. Be sure to keep your smoke alarms in working order. (Test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year, and replace all alarms every ten years.) Take special caution on Thanksgiving, the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment.
SVFD wants to share safety tips to keep you from having a cooking fire:
Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. Never leave cooking food unattended. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
In addition, portable cooking devices, such as microwaves, crockpots, and electric hot plates, also have some fire risk. Operate them on dry, stable surfaces areas where they won’t be bumped, and are away from children and pets. Inspect all cords and appliances for damage before use, keep cords out of the way, and plug in the appliances directly into the electric outlet, without an extension cord. Attend to the devices when in use and unplug when not in use.
Microwave Safety: Using a microwave may mean you’re not working with a hot cooking surface, but beware of the piping hot foods and liquids it warms that may be hotter than you think. Microwaves heat liquids unevenly, and for this reason baby bottles should never be microwaved to prevent scalding risk. Instead, heat the milk or formula in the sink by running hot water over the bottle. One of the most common cooking injuries is a scalding burn from microwaving pre-packaged soups, especially noodle soups, because they are easy to spill on the skin or clothing. Use special caution when transporting hot containers so you can actually enjoy the food!
In the case of a burn, treat it right away. Cool the burn with cool water for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help if needed.
It’s important for every member of our community to take some time every October during Fire Prevention Week to make sure you understand how to stay safe in case of a fire. We want to help reduce the number of cooking fires we have in our community.