10 Tips to Prevent Cooking Fires

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), cooking is the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.
3 Min Read

In fact, from 2017 to 2019, kitchen fires accounted for 51% of all residential fires.* And here’s a statistic that’s even more troubling: From 2009 to 2018, home cooking fires increased by 18%.**

Why the jump in cooking-related incidents? Unattended cooking is the primary factor, according to the USFA. Frying with oil is the next biggest factor. Andno surprise hereThanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.

Stay alert in the kitchen and stay safe. Follow these 10 tips based on the American Red Cross “Cooking Fires Fact Sheet”*** to avoid cooking fires in your home:

  1. Never leave the kitchen while cooking, especially if you’re frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling. Need to go to the bathroom, peek in on a child in another room or catch your favorite TV show? Turn off the stove.
  2. Check pots on the stovetop or pans in the oven regularly, and use a timer to remind you to keep an eye on what you’re cooking. Use two timers to be doubly safe.
  3. Wear close-fitting clothes while cooking. Avoid loose tops and dangling sleeves.
  4. Keep kids out of the kitchen, or a minimum of three feet from the stove, while you’re cooking.
  5. Keep a safe distance between oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or any other flammable item and anything in the kitchen that generates heat.
  6. Keep cooking surfaces clean to prevent grease buildup.
  7. Keep lids for pans within reach. If food in a pan catches fire, slide the lid over it to smother the fire and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled. Never remove the lid, or the fire could reignite. And never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on it. The same applies to an oven fire: Just turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  8. Make sure your stovetop, oven, and small appliances are turned off before going to bed or leaving your home.
  9. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. And never, ever disable smoke alarms while cooking.
  10. If you do have a kitchen fire, don’t try to fight it yourself. In over 50% of reported cases of non-fatal home cooking fire injuries, the victims attempted to fight the fire.

The smartest move in the event of a kitchen fire: Get out! Close the door behind you to help contain the fire. And call 9-1-1 or your local fire department immediately.

For more information on how to prevent home fires, download the Red Cross Fire Prevention & Safety Checklist




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