Many homeowners are unaware that the most common causes of house fires are cooking related. According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking fires cause 46% of house fires and 44% of household injuries.
You aren’t alone if you think those numbers are shockingly high. However, most of us are never taught cooking safety techniques. In this article, we’re going to give you some tips to protect you and your family from the most common and some lesser known causes of kitchen fires.
Cooking fire statistics
Knowing the most common causes of cooking fires is a great way to understand just how dangerous certain types of cooking really are. The NFPA reports that frying is the most dangerous type of cooking. Two-thirds of cooking fires were the result of the ignition of food and cooking materials.
In terms of equipment, the range or cooktop is the most dangerous part of the kitchen, causing over 60% of fires. However, much of the time the cause comes down to leaving your equipment unattended.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of house fires is to stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking. Unattended ranges, stovetops, and ovens can be particularly deadly since they can happen as a result of someone dozing off while watching television, or someone forgetting they left a burner on after they go to sleep.
A good way to monitor your cooking is to always use a timer, even if you don’t necessarily need one for the cooking that you’re doing. Also, be sure that your smoke detectors are working and that you have a functional fire extinguisher in your home. Make sure your family knows what to do if they encounter a fire.
Before you turn on your burners before frying, make sure there is nothing around your oven that can catch fire. A food container, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper towels, or curtains could all potentially catch fire if they come in close contact with a burner.
Clothing is also a leading cause of kitchen fires that turn fatal. Make sure sleeves and other pieces of clothing aren’t near any burners or open flames.
In case of fire
If you encounter a large cooking fire that is spreading throughout, the best thing to do is to immediately gather your family and get out of the house, avoiding the kitchen entirely. Call 9-1-1 as soon as you are safely outside and don’t re-enter the house under any circumstances.
For small grease fires, smother the fire with a lid and turn off the burner immediately.
Understanding cooking fires
Most fire requires oxygen to burn and spread. If there is a small fire in your kitchen, using a soaked towel or a pan lid to smother it will suffice.
However, grease fires work differently. Never put water on a grease fire, this can cause the fire to spread very quickly. Rather, use a lid to put out the fire if it is small enough to get near. You can also throw baking soda, or use a fire extinguisher on a small grease fire.