Stay fire safe when cooking
As a fire service, more than half of all the fires we attend start in the kitchen. Even a small fire can cause you to lose decades of memories in just a few seconds. There are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk of having a cooking fire.
Reduce the risk of having a cooking fire
There are four things you can do to reduce your risk of cooking fire.
- Use a cooking timer – distraction (and falling asleep) whilst cooking can cause a fire, so reduce your chance of distraction by using a timer. Take the timer with you if you need to leave the room, so you can always hear it.
- Keep your cooking area tidy – we attend many fires caused by items around the cooker catching fire, such as tea towels, kitchen towels and chopping boards.
- Use less oil or even better, use the oven instead. Oil catches fire easily, so use as little as possible.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before or whilst cooking. When we drink alcohol, it increases our risk-taking behaviour and causes drowsiness – which both increase the risk of fire.
Who is most at risk of cooking fires?
Anyone who cooks is at risk of fire, but there are certain groups of people who are more at risk. Across Devon and Somerset, the group most at risk of fire is in the age group aged 65 and over, with around three-quarters of this group’s domestic fires started by cooking. Unfortunately, we also see more injuries from cooking fires and more hospitalised injuries in people aged over 65.
We know that distraction is a major cause of cooking fires, so busy households with children, animals (or both!) are at a higher risk of cooking fire. You can reduce the risk of cooking fire due to distraction by using a cooking timer.
What to do if you have a cooking fire
- Turn off the heat under the pan (if it’s safe to do so) so it starts to cool.
- Leave the pan where it is – don’t move it.
- Never throw water over it or use a fire extinguisher - the effects can be devastating and spread the fire further.
- Leave the room, close the door, get everyone out of your home and stay out. Then call 999.
If you cannot turn off the heat, just get out, closing the doors behind you (to stop the spread) and call 999. Do not go back inside until you are told by the fire service that it is safe to go to.
Worried about someone your care about and their cooking habits?
We want everyone to be safe from the risk of fire, and it’s natural for you to worry about loved ones being safe in the kitchen. If you’re worried about your loved one’s safety in the kitchen, we have the following advice:
- Encourage safe and simple cooking methods, avoiding deep fat frying or using a frying pan with a lot of oil. Air fryers are a safer alternative to deep fat frying, or cooking in the oven may give similar results and is often a safer method, as long as a cooking timer is set. A microwave may also be a safe option, as long as it is used according the instructions.
- For some people, it may be safest to avoid cooking completely.
- If you’d like to talk to someone about fire safety, call our advice line on 0800 0502 999, we can also arrange a home fire safety visit to help with making the home safer from the risk of fire.