Learning Center

Kitchen Fire Safety Tips

Make fire prevention a key ingredient of your cooking masterpieces.

Man and women cooking together

Since 1990, cooking has been the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2010 cooking was responsible for more than 156,000 home fires. These fires caused 470 deaths, more than 5,300 injuries and property damage of almost $1 billion.

With some common sense and precaution, you can keep your cooking plans from going up in smoke. Follow these fire prevention tips.

Exercise kitchen caution

  • Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking. If you leave the room even temporarily, turn off the stove.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
  • When young children are present, use the stove's back burners whenever possible.
  • Be alert. Don’t cook if you are drowsy.
  • Keep flammable items away from your stovetop. This includes potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and curtains.
  • Keep your stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
  • Cook only with equipment designed and intended for cooking. There is danger of fire, injury, or death if equipment is used in ways it wasn’t intended.
  • Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwaves or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders as they can cause scald burns.
  • Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance. It can overload the circuit and cause a fire. A long extension cord can also be a tripping hazard.

If you have a cooking fire

When in doubt, get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 or a 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 an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. (Make sure you are wearing the oven mitt.) Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan and 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 to prevent flames from burning you.
  • If a fire starts in your microwave, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
  • After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked or serviced before being used again.

By exercising some simple culinary caution, you can help keep your family safe, your home intact and your taste buds satisfied.

For more information on how you can protect your home from fire and other hazards, contact your local American Family Insurance agent.

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