On May 16, two people were found unconscious after an early morning house fire. Flames were visible from outside the house and when crews went inside, the residents were found unresponsive in a bedroom. They were later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The fire department determined that the fire started due to unattended food left on the stove. The home did not have working smoke alarms.
Since May 2020, news outlets have shared seven confirmed cooking fire incidents like this one. These incidents have left nine people dead, family members and friends injured, and homes destroyed.
Cooking is necessary and often relaxing and fun. People like to gather in the kitchen to talk and enjoy time with one another. But as you know, cooking is also the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Life is so busy, and people are accustomed to multitasking. But a minute away from a stove can easily turn into five, and a small flame or overheated oil can start a large fire in that time.
Cooking fires in residential buildings
Source: National Fire Incident Reporting System
Each year, from 2016 to 2018, fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated average of
cooking fires in residential buildings.
Cooking was, by far, the leading cause of all residential building fires and injuries.
These fires caused an estimated
in property loss
During Fire Prevention Week, remind your community about these cooking facts and use the messages to help them understand the fire risks in their kitchens.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking at high temperatures.
- If you must leave, turn off the burner.
- When simmering food on the stove or baking in the oven, set a timer to remind you that you are cooking. It is very easy to get distracted by electronics and lose track of time.
Many home cooking fires happen on the kitchen range.
- Before you turn on the heat, move dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains — anything that can burn — away from the stove.
- When you are finished, wipe up any spills or food left on the stove.
Frying is the greatest risk for a home cooking fire.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking at high temperatures, like frying, boiling and grilling.
- When oil gets too hot, it can easily start a fire. Keep a pot lid or a cookie sheet nearby when you are cooking at high temperatures.
- If the pot starts to flame, put the lid or cookie sheet over the pot, turn off the heat and let it cool.
We know that many departments cannot organize community events this year because of COVID-19. To help, the U.S. Fire Administration created materials for social media and your website.
Facebook and Twitter cards provide the opportunity to share a quick safety message with your audience.
Videos can demonstrate safe cooking practices to your community.
Pictographs will reinforce the messages in your social media posts and assist community members in understanding the messages.
Turn pot handles away from the stove's edge. Always keep a lid nearby when you cook. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, slide the pan lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan has cooled.
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: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times