You may not think of your kitchen as a particularly dangerous place, but more house fires start in the kitchen than in any other room in the home. Cooking is the #1 cause of house fires in the U.S. and also the leading cause of home fire-related injuries. Cooking fires more often result from unattended cooking and human error than from the mechanical failure of stoves or ovens. Finally, the range, rather than the oven, is the most likely source of ignition for a fire in the kitchen.
By taking a few simple safety precautions and paying special attention when cooking, you can avoid having a kitchen fire in your home.
Kitchen Fire Safety Tips
- Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended - keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
- Never place or store combustible items on the range or in the oven. Food containers, cutting boards, and plastic cooking utensils all can burn if the stove is left on. Keep curtains, towels, potholders, and other combustible materials away from flames and hot surfaces.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Turn pot handles in to prevent food spills and burns.
- Clean cooking areas frequently. Built-up grease can catch fire.
- Mount an A-B-C dry chemical fire extinguisher at eye level near the exit to your kitchen and away from the stove. For more information about fire extinguishers, please visit our information about fire extinguishers web page.
- Keep a container of baking soda handy to extinguish small kitchen fires (never use flour - flour is flammable!)
- At a minimum, install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. To avoid false alarms, try installing smoke detectors at least ten feet away from stoves and other cooking equipment. For more information about smoke detectors, please visit our information about smoke detectors web page.
- A home safety check can help you identify potential fire and life safety hazards in your home and provide you with valuable advice on how to mitigate those hazards. To request a free home safety check, please visit our home safety checks web page.
- Do you have a gas stove or other gas appliances? If so, consider installing a carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your home. Fore more information about CO, please visit our information about carbon monoxide web page.
- Always use cooking equipment that is tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
- Don't plug too many appliances into one outlet. Use only one heat-producing appliance on the same circuit at one time.
- Replace cracked or frayed appliance cords.
- If an appliance feels too hot, smokes, or gives off a funny odor, unplug it immediately and have it serviced or replaced.
- Whenever possible, unplug kitchen appliances after each use.
- Be wary of using electrical appliances around the sink or too close to water. Have ground-fault interrupter (GFI) outlets installed on all kitchen counter outlets to prevent electrical shocks.
- In the event of a kitchen fire, call the fire department immediately! Do not attempt to fight a kitchen fire unless someone has called 9-1-1!
- Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until the pan is completely cool and don't peek to make sure the fire is out!
- Never pour water on a grease fire and avoid discharging a fire extinguisher directly onto a pan fire as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, actually making the fire worse.
- Never attempt to carry a pan of burning food outside.
- For a fire in an oven or broiler, keep the oven door shut and turn off the heat to smother the fire.
- For a fire in a microwave oven, keep the door closed and unplug the oven. Make sure to have the oven serviced before you attempt to use it again.
- Report all fires to the fire department even if you think you've put them out!