Fire safety: Unattended cooking

Fire safety: Unattended cooking

by: MSgt Mark Goenen | .
KMC Fire Emergency Services | .
published: May 26, 2017

A mom was making french fries in a fryer in the kitchen when the children began fussing in the living room. The dog started barking and the phone rang. Within seconds, Mom would serve as an on-the-spot referee, dog handler and phone answerer. In the minute she was distracted from her work in the kitchen, hot grease ignited a potholder, hurriedly thrown next to the fryer. The fire spread through the kitchen before she could return. Everyone escaped and firefighters put the fire out, but the house suffered extensive damage. The kind of fire this family experienced is one of the leading causes of home fires.

Cooking is often a relaxing and fun task that brings family and friends together, and provides a great way to showcase your creativity and love of good food. But cooking (especially unattended cooking) is the NUMBER ONE cause of home fires and home injuries. Being mindful while you cook can go a long way to helping prevent these fires. The unfortunate fact that home fires occur is a sad reality, and despite sound fire prevention measures and fire safety campaigns, KMC Fire Emergency Services has observed a trend of unattended cooking fires. With these thoughts in mind, here are some fire safety facts and what to do if you experience a cooking fire.

Cooking fires by the numbers:

• Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in these fires.

• 67% of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

• Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.

• Ranges accounted for 57% of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.

• 55% of non-fatal cooking fire injuries occurred when victims tried to fight the fire themselves.

• Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.

• Thanksgiving is the peak day for home-cooking fires.

If you have a cooking fire:

• Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

• Call your base fire emergency number, but only after you leave.

• If you attempt to fight the fire with a fire extinguisher, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

• Keep a lid nearby when you are 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. Do not use water on a grease fire.

• For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

For additional information please contact your base fire department or visit

Tags: fire safety, fire prevention, cooking
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