When cooking, stay in the kitchen and keep an eye on the
Fires resulting from cooking continue to be the most common type of fire
experienced by U.S. households. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of
civilian fire injuries in residences. These fires are preventable by simply
being more attentive to the use of cooking materials and equipment.
Don’t become a cooking fire casualty. Learn the facts about cooking fire
Safe Cooking Tips
The kitchen can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the home if you don’t
practice safe cooking behaviors. Here are some safety tips to help:
Never leave boiling, frying, or broiling food unattended. Stay in the
kitchen! If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off
Check food that is cooking regularly; use a timer to remind you that you
Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food
packaging, towels, or curtains – away from your stovetop.
Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose
clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in
contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where
hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
Always use cooking equipment that has the label of a recognized testing
laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions and code requirements when installing,
cleaning, and operating cooking equipment.
Plug microwave ovens or other cooking appliances directly into an outlet.
Never use an extension cord for cooking appliances as it can overload the
circuit and cause a fire.
Check electrical cords for cracks, breaks, or damage.
Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain
Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out
and you have a clear path to the exit.
Always keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire
starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan.
Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting,
leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. After
a fire, the oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.
If a smoke alarm sounds during normal cooking, you may need to move it
farther away from the kitchen (according to manufacturer’s instructions) and/or
install a smoke alarm with a pause button.
If your alarm already has a pause button, push the pause button, open the
door or window, and fan the area around the alarm with a towel to get the air
moving. Do not disable the smoke alarm or take the batteries
Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and
safely to the alarm.
Purchase the proper starter fluid and store it out of reach of children
and away from heat sources.
Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been
ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal
starter fluid to get the fire going.
Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first
time each year.
If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and
call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill
protection devices (OPD). OPD devices are easily identified by their
triangular-shaped hand wheel.
Use only equipment bearing the mark of a recognized testing laboratory,
such as Underwriters Laboratories. Follow the manufacturer’s
instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a
gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it
Stovetop and oven fires are not the only types of cooking fires. As the
weather gets warmer, more people will begin to use barbecue grills. While many
of the safety tips are similar to indoor cooking, there are special concerns
with barbecue grills.
Position the grill well away from siding and deck railings and out from
under eaves and overhanging branches.
Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot
Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot
“kid-free zone” around the grill.
Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of
clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.
Periodically remove grease and fat buildup in trays below the grill so it
cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed
spaces such as tents, barbecue grills pose both fire and carbon monoxide
Burns and Scalds
In 2006, hospital emergency rooms treated around 29,850 thermal burns and
8,460 burns caused by cooking equipment. Ranges accounted for 62% of these
thermal burns and grills 28%. Microwaves accounted for 41% of the scald burns.
Because microwaves are the leading cause of scald burns, be extra careful
when opening a heated food container. Heat food in containers that are marked
‘microwave safe.’ Since foods heat unevenly in the microwave, make sure you stir
and test the food before eating.
Protecting Children from Scalds and Burns
As the statistics suggest, young children are at a high risk of being burned
by hot food and liquid. You can help prevent these injuries by following a few
Keep children at least 3 feet away from where food and drink are being
prepared or carried.
Keep hot foods and liquids away from the table or counter edges.
Use the stove’s back burners if you have young children in the home.
Never hold a child while cooking, drinking, or carrying hot foods or