The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported there were more than 172,000 cooking fires per year between 2014 and 2018. These cooking fires peaked during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Whether it is for a quick bite to eat or a large meal, cooking is a part of everyday life, so it is important Hoosiers understand and take proper cooking precautions.
Cooking Safety Tips
- Kitchen Safety
Across the United States, fire departments respond to more than 470 residential cooking fires each day, according to a July 2020 report by the NFPA. Before you begin to fix a meal in the kitchen, always make sure to:
- Use a timer as a reminder to check on cooking food.
- Regularly check simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food.
- Remain at home and turn off the stove or other appliances when leaving is necessary.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
- Never operate an oven or stovetop when drowsy or after consuming alcohol.
- Move flammable items, such as oven mitts, cooking utensils and food packaging, away from the stovetop.
- Regularly clean food and grease residue from the stovetop and oven.
- Deep Frying Safety
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, deep frying oil can reach temperatures of over 400°F, is highly flammable and can cause severe bodily injury when it comes into contact with water. Avoid the extreme dangers and fire risks of deep frying by:
- Using deep fryers outdoors at a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials
- Never using deep fryers on wooden decks or inside garages
- Never leaving a deep fryer unattended
- Completely thawing meat before placing it inside a deep fryer
- Following the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of deep fryer oil to use
- Making sure deep fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping
- Covering bare skin when adding or removing food in a deep fryer
- Immediately turning off the gas supply if the deep fryer oil begins to smoke
- Outdoor Cooking
More than 10,500 home fires were started by a grill between 2014 and 2018, according to the NFPA. Before firing up the barbecue, always make sure to:
- Clean the grill by removing any grease or fat buildup.
- Never leave an outdoor charcoal or gas grill unattended.
- Place the grill away from the home, deck railings and out from under overhanging branches.
- Regularly check propane grills for gas leaks. If one is found, have a professional service the grill before using it again.
- Step away and immediately call the fire department if gas can be smelled during cooking.
- Avoid placing the grill on dry grass or leaves.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid to the flame of a grill.
- Finish your grilling session by letting the coals cool completely and disposing them in a metal container.
- Extinguishing Cooking Fires
According to the NFPA, 55 percent of cooking fire-related injuries occur when residents attempt to extinguish the fire themselves. When it comes to extinguishing cooking fires, always remember to:
- Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen.
- Never try using water to douse a grease fire. Smother small grease fires by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the stovetop.
- Extinguish an oven fire by turning off the heat and keeping the oven door closed.
- Evacuate the home and call 911 if the cooking fire becomes too large to address safely.
Learn more about using fire extinguishers on the Fire Extinguishers page.
Properly placed and working smoke alarms double the likelihood of survival of a house fire. Help keep every loved one safe by learning how to install and maintain smoke alarms.
- Alarms should be replaced every eight to 10 years, and for smoke alarms that use traditional batteries, batteries should be changed once a year.
- Smoke alarms should be tested every month.
- Install smoke alarms on every level, in every sleeping area and outside every bedroom of the building.
- Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting different kinds of potentially fatal fires. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends every household be equipped with both kinds of alarms, or dual-sensor alarms.