Cooking is often a relaxing and fun task that brings family and friends together, but unattended cooking is also the leading cause of fires in the kitchen and home injuries. Being mindful while you cook, however, can go a long way to helping prevent these fires. Here is everything you need to know about cooking safely!
What you should know about home cooking safety and unattended cooking
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- Always keep Burnshield nearby. A burn can take a second to occur and a lifetime to heal if treated incorrectly. (View products.) Burnshield can be purchased from your nearest local pharmacy.
If you have a cooking fire
- Smother the fire by sliding a 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.
- When the fire is out of control just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call emergencies services for help.
Safety considerations for cooking with oil
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
- If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.
Cooking fire facts
Based on 2014-2018 annual averages:
- Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home* fires and fire injuries, causing 49% of home fires that resulted in 21% of the home fire deaths and 44% of the injuries.
- Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Clothing is the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but clothing ignitions lead to 8% of the home cooking equipment fire deaths.
- Ranges or cooktops account for three-fifths (61%) of home cooking fire incidents.
- Unattended equipment is a factor in one-third (31%) of reported home cooking fires and over half (53%) of the associated deaths.
- Frying dominates the cooking fire problem.
- Christmas Eve is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Easter.
Sources: NFPA’s Home Cooking Fires and Home Structure Fires reports.