Updated: Apr 20
Kitchen fires are one of the most common causes of house fires, especially in apartment complexes. What’s more, cooking fires are the leading cause of home fire injuries and home fire deaths so it’s important to take precautions when cooking in order to keep you and your property safe.
Cooking is much more affordable than eating out for every meal and can be a great way to bring friends and family together. And the good news is that it’s relatively easy to prevent cooking fires if you understand a few simple tips. In this article, we cover some basic safety tips for preventing a cooking fire so you can enjoy all the benefits of cooking at home without all the worries.
Proper ventilation is key in preventing stovetop fires because cooking can cause incredibly high temperatures that can easily ignite flammable materials. Stoves, ovens, and microwaves generate heat and can produce smoke and various cooking odors, which can irritate the eyes, nose, or throat if they are not properly ventilated. A poorly ventilated kitchen is also likely to set off your smoke alarm unnecessarily, which isn’t dangerous but can get annoying. If ventilation is inadequate, the air inside the kitchen will become polluted by cooking fumes and smoke, leading to a greater risk of fire due to accumulation of flammable gasses. Additionally, proper ventilation also helps reduce condensation, which reduces moisture levels inside your kitchen that could potentially increase the chances of an accidental fire.
One of the easiest ways to ensure proper ventilation in your kitchen before cooking is to open windows and doors while cooking. This allows fresh air to circulate and push out cooking odors and smoke, reducing the risk of fire. If your kitchen has an exhaust fan or range hood above your cooking surfaces then make sure to use that because those are designed to help draw cooking fumes and smoke outside. Ceiling and other fans can also be used to help circulate air.
Never Leave Food Unattended
Unattended cooking is one of the biggest factors that lead to kitchen fires. Heat can build up quickly and ignite flammable materials nearby. It’s also important to stay in the kitchen while cooking in order to keep an eye on rising temperatures or any other signs of potential danger such as sparks, smoke, or flames coming from cooking appliances.
When cooking, it’s best practice not only to remain present near the stovetop but also ensure that someone else is close enough by so they can take action if needed. Additionally, always make sure young children are kept away from open flames and hot surfaces when cooking so they don’t accidentally hurt themselves while you’re distracted.
Keep Flammable Materials Clear of Heat Sources
It’s important to keep flammable materials away from heat sources in order to reduce the risk of home cooking fires. Flammable items such as cooking oils, cleaning supplies, and paper towels should never be stored near a cooking appliance because they can easily ignite when exposed to high temperatures. Dish towels, cloth oven mitts, food packaging, and loose clothing are other things to keep in mind. These items can quickly catch fire when exposed to an open flame.
Keep your cooking equipment in good shape. Appliances that are faulty or have missing parts are one of the most common fire code violations and should be immediately replaced to reduce the chances of a kitchen fire. It’s also important to ensure that appliances are regularly cleaned and properly maintained, as grease buildup can easily catch fire when heated.
Handling an Oven Fire
Oven fires are less common than stove top fires but they do happen so you should be prepared to handle them if they do. The best approach to oven fires is to turn off the heat and let the flames die out on their own. Never open the oven door before it has completely cooled as this could allow the flames to escape and spread throughout the cooking area.
Keep Smoke Detectors in Working Order
Smoke detectors are required by law and should be installed in the kitchen and other parts of the house to alert of any smoke buildup that could lead to cooking fires. We’ve written a quick guide on everything you should know about smoke detectors but the quick tip is to make sure they’re installed in the right places and batteries are checked at least annually.
What to Do in the Event of a Fire
When a cooking fire does occur, it is important to act quickly and safely to put it out. The first step is to turn off the heat source, if possible.
If it is a small fire and you are unable to reach the cooking appliance (and don’t have FireAvert installed, which automatically cuts off the heat source) then first try to contain the fire. This can be done by covering the flames with a lid or pan. In the event of a grease fire, douse the flames with baking soda—never use water as that will make the situation worse and do not attempt to move burning materials, as this could cause further damage.
Keep a Working Fire Extinguisher Nearby
It is important to always keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen in case of a cooking fire. Having a fire extinguisher near cooking appliances can help put out flames that are too big to cover and help you avoid a spread so big that you’ll need to call the fire department. It’s also important to make sure everyone in the household knows how to properly use it, as it could potentially save your home and family from serious harm caused by a cooking fire.
Don’t Take Chances
Cooking safety is an important part of keeping your home and family safe. These simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of kitchen fires occurring in your own home. By taking these precautions and following some basic cooking safety tips, you can ensure that everyone in your home remains safe while cooking delicious meals for many years to come!
FireAvert was founded by retired firefighter, Peter Thorpe. After years of responding to calls into the local fire department and seeing that immense destruction caused by largely avoidable kitchen fires, he created a powerful home fire prevention product that stops kitchen fires from turning into tragedies.
Every 4.5 minutes in the U.S., firefighters are called to homes to put out kitchen fires. Too many property owners think that fire alarm systems begin and end with a smoke detector. These fires could have been prevented with proper smoke alarm monitoring.