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Cooking is leading cause of home fires

Fire Prevention Week 2020, which ran the first week in October, was themed “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” The campaign empowered firefighters to educate everyone about simple but important actions families can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

According to information from the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S. Almost half — 44% — of reported home fires started in the kitchen. Sixty-six percent of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

“Cooking fires are preventable,” said firefighter Michael McLeieer, president and founder of the nonprofit E.S.C.A.P.E Inc. “It’s important that people stay in the kitchen when they are cooking, use a timer as a reminder when the food is done and avoid distractions such as electronics or televisions. These are some of the important steps everyone can take to keep families safe in their homes.”

A cooking fire can grow quickly. Each year, many homes are damaged and people are injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. offers this recipe for Fire-Safe Cooking:

  • Keep an eye on what you fry. Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • Stand by your pan. If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert and awake when cooking. Alcohol and some drugs can make you sleepy. 
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flames. Turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or pull them over.
  • Have a “kid-free and pet-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried. 

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities, please contact your local fire department. For more information about cooking fire prevention, visit National Fire Protection Association or E.S.C.A.P.E

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