Cooking Fires

Did you know that cooking fires are the number one cause leading to house fires and house fire injuries? It is also the second leading cause of death in a house fire. 

According to the NFPA:

  • US fire departments responded to an estimated average of 172,900 home structure fires per year started by cooking activities in 2014-2018. These fires caused an average of 550 civilian deaths, 4,820 reported civilian fire injuries and more than $1 billion in direct property damage per year.
  • Ranges or cooktops were involved in 61% of reported home cooking fires, 87% of cooking fire deaths, and 78% of cooking fire injuries.
  • Households that use electric ranges have a higher risk of cooking fires and associated losses than those using gas ranges.
  • Unattended cooking was the leading cause of cooking fires and casualties. Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but clothing ignitions led to 8% of the home cooking fire deaths.
  • More than one-quarter of the people killed by cooking fires were sleeping at the time. More than half of the non-fatal injuries occurred when people tried to control the fire themselves.

Two out of every five house fires start in the kitchen. Most often this is related to unattended or distracted cooking. Ranges or cooktops are the most commonly used equipment involved in house fires. An electric range is more dangerous than a gas range. That's because, with an electric range, it may be less obvious that a burner is on. Remember, burners on electric ranges stay hot for a period of time even when turned off. 

Here are some safety tips when in the kitchen from FEMA (DOWNLOAD FLYER): 

  • Stand by your pan: 
    • If you leave the kitchen, turn the burner off. 
  • Watch what you are cooking: 
    • Fires start when the heat is too high. If you see any smoke or the grease starts to boil, turn the burner off. 
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove: 
    • Then no one can bump them or pull them over. 
  • Keep a pan lid or baking sheet nearby: 
    • Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire. This will put out the fire. 

What to do if there is a kitchen fire from NFPA:  

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Sources: NFPA, FEMA