Cooking Fires: Why Are They So Common?

We have been instructed since our childhood years to avoid playing with fire. But actually, that’s what we all do in the kitchen. As a result, most fires happen in the kitchen. They happen when we cook. And the more we cook, the more probable is that a fire will start. It’s no wonder that many house fires so far started in kitchens during the holiday season. According to the NFPA, the number of cooking fires peaked on 2019 Thanksgiving Day followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

It’s also frightening to know that nearly half of the reported house fires occurred in the kitchen. Everyone’s favorite place in the home may become a scary place. But why are cooking fires common house fires?

Who puts fires in our kitchens?

The causes of cooking fires are different. Of course, they happen because fire, grease, and combustibles meet.

Which is the number one reason for cooking fires?

Unattended cooking. Most cooking fires occur when food is cooking unattended. Such fires have resulted in many deaths and serious property damage. It takes a minute away from the stove to return to a disastrous situation, especially if this is a gas stove or you are frying.

Other reasons for cooking fires include leaving combustibles close to the stove, turning on the stove accidentally, forgetting the stove on, ignoring smoke emitting from burning oil, not cleaning grease around the stove, and keeping the stove flames high.

It’s fair to say that some fires may start with all kitchen appliances, even those that work with electricity. But it’s not a surprise that most fires start with gas stoves. It’s due to the burner’s flames.

What’s important to understand is that if you consider the cleaning towel you keep close to the stove as you cook, the clothes you wear as you cook, the grease involved in your kitchen, and the flames of the appliance is easy to conclude that a fire may start. Now, as you picture all that, try to imagine leaving the kitchen or talking to the phone a couple of feet away from the stove. A fire can easily start and you won’t even know it.

Safety tips for the avoidance of cooking fires

When you walk away from the stove just for a minute, remember that a fire may start even faster than that. And then, your one minute may be longer. Most kitchen fires start when the person in charge of cooking is not standing over the stove. Most cooking fires happen during the holidays when we have lots of preparations for a dinner party and lots to cook. The kitchen countertop is filled with all sorts of flammables, the whole family gets in the way, phones ring, visitors draw attention, and so, an accident may happen.

Some of the kitchen safety tips involve the avoidance of loose clothing while cooking, keeping the stove temperatures/flames low, fixing broken stoves, not cooking when tired, having one cook in the kitchen, being extra careful when frying with oil, and distancing all flammables.

Of course, the number one piece of advice for the avoidance of cooking fires is never leaving the stove unattended and never letting anything or anyone draw your attention elsewhere other than cooking.

But there’s more. According to fire damage restoration companies, many fires are small and can be put out if there was only a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. On top of that, many small fires spread when water is spread over grease. If there’s a fire due to burning butter, cooking oil, and similar fats, forget water and grab the fire extinguisher or use salt.

In other words, a small fire – one that could be controlled, may become big and dangerous if you don’t know how to handle it. The best thing you can do is take safety precautions, like keeping flammables away from fire sources, putting your heart and soul in the kitchen when cooking, and having fire retardants around – like baking soda and a fire extinguisher.

It’s also important to clean the stove once you are done cooking and remove all grease residues to fireproof your kitchen. Remember that we never think of bad things happening to us – like a fire, until bad things happen. Why live it if you can avoid it?