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Cooking Fire Safety
Updated On: Dec 24, 2008

Cooking Fires and Burn Safety


Cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries in Massachusetts

In 2006, there were 8,166 fires in Massachusetts involving cooking. These incidents resulted in zero deaths, 58 civilian injuries, 42 firefighter injuries and caused $9.6 million in property damage.

Cooking liquids are the number one cause of scald burns in Massachusetts.

Children under age 5 were most likely to suffer scald burns in Massachusetts.

  • Put the coffee down when you hold the baby. A wiggling baby can jiggle your arm and spill the drink all over himself.
  • Put drinks and soups toward the center of the table away from curious fingers. Babies like to grab things.
  • Consider replacing table clothes with place mats to prevent your child from pulling everything on the table onto her.

Cooking Safety Tips

  • Put a lid on a grease fire to smother it and then turn off the heat. Baking soda will also work.
  • Never move a burning pan. You can be badly burned or spread the fire.
  • Never throw water on or use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire. Water will only spread the fire and the force of the extinguisher can splash flaming grease out of the pan.
  • Stand by your pan. Don’t leave food, grease, or oils cooking unattended. This is how most cooking fires start.
  • Wear short or tight fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose fitting clothes can easily catch fire.
  • If your clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP & ROLL to put out the flames. Cool burns with water. Call 9-1-1 for help.
  • Keep pot handles turned inward to prevent spills of hot contents.
  • Create a 3-foot “child free zone” around the stove. Keep children and pets away from the stove while cooking to prevent burns and scalds.
  • Keep combustible objects such as potholders, towels, paper or plastic bags away from heating elements.
  • For fires inside an oven or microwave, keep the door closed, turn off the appliance and call the fire department.
  • Don’t place any metal inside a microwave. Utensils, aluminum foil or twist-tie wraps can arc and cause fire.
  • Microwaved foods and liquids can become very hot. Use caution to avoid scalds.
  • Don’t use the oven to store items.
This information is from the Massachusetts Department of Fire services

NFPA Safety Tips

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.

Safety tips

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners and oven clean.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  • Have a "kid-free zone" of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Always use cooking equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions and code requirements when installing, cleaning, and operating cooking equipment.
  • Plug microwave ovens or other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Check electrical cords for cracks, breaks, or damage.

If you have a cooking fire

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. 
  • Call 9-1-1 or the 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 a lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the 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 is completely cool.
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. After a fire, the oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

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