When is the last time you thought about fire safety? If you own a home, you probably have smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in your home. You might even have a fire safety plan. But, what fire hazards are you most concerned about?
When people think about house fires, they often mistakenly believe that most home fires are caused by electrical malfunctions, or other hazards. They might think about accidents like space heaters or fireplaces causing a fire. Perhaps, they think about fires caused by cigarette smokers, or even wildfires like the ones that have been happening in California.
What they likely don’t think about is what actually causes most house fires. Most house fires occur in the kitchen. In fact, 49 percent of house fires are a result of a cooking-related incident. This is why this year, the NFPA chose to make the National Fire Prevention Week’s theme for 2020: “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.”
What can you do to prevent fires in the kitchen?
#1 Don’t leave food cooking on the stove unattended
Leaving food unattended on the stove is the number one cause of house fires. This might seem like common sense, but it happens all the time. Have you ever started dinner and left your food to simmer? When you come back to check on it an hour later it’s burned. Burned food isn’t the end of the world, but leaving food on the stove without checking on it, can cause a fire.
If you’re baking or cooking a meal that requires time to simmer, use a timer. Check on your food periodically to make sure it does not start on fire. Thanksgiving is one of the worst times of year for kitchen fires, in part because people are doing a lot of baking and leaving food like turkey to cook for hours unattended.
#2 Keep stovetop clear of flammables.
Make sure you keep oven mitts, towels, food packaging, and kitchen utensils away from your stove. Anything that has the potential to catch on fire should be kept at least three feet away from your cooking area.
#3 Stay focused when you cook.
If you are tired or have been drinking, don’t cook. It’s easier to get distracted or forget about food you’re cooking if you’re tired or drinking.
#4 Use caution when frying with oil
Grease fires happen quickly and spread fast. To avoid a grease fire, be cautious when you add items to your pan. You don’t want the oil to splash or ignite.
Keep a lid nearby. The best way to put out a grease fire is to smother it. Use a lid or baking soda in an emergency to smother the fire.
Never try to put out a grease fire with water. Water will cause the fire to spread.
Here are some important facts about kitchen fires from the NFPA.
- 49% of house fires are caused by cooking fires.
- 21% of house fire deaths are due to kitchen fires
- clothing catching on fire causes 14% of kitchen fire deaths
- 31% of fires that start in the kitchen are caused by unattended food
Keep your kitchen safe from fire by practicing kitchen fire safety. Most cooking related fires are preventable. The best way to prevent a fire in your kitchen is to pay attention to your food when you are cooking
If there is a fire, have a safety plan.
Keep working smoke detectors in your home. Make sure to test your smoke detectors at least once a month.
Keep a fire extinguisher in your house and know where it’s located.
Make sure you have a fire safety plan. In the event of a fire, everyone in your house should know how to get out safely. Practice your fire safety plan twice a year.
According to the NFPA, house fires cause around 6.9 billion in damages each year. If you own a home, make sure your home has adequate coverage to replace your home if a fire should happen. Review your home insurance coverage to make sure your home and valuables are protected.