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Posted on: September 6, 2023

Fire Prevention 101: Fire Safety in the Kitchen

Photo of a residential kitchen fire originating from the stove top, with large flames extending

Kitchen fire safety is of paramount importance, as kitchen fires pose a significant threat to both property and lives. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

To combat this risk, Santa Rosa residents should adhere to critical safety practices in the kitchen. First and foremost, never leave cooking unattended, as unwatched stovetops or ovens are the most common ignition points for kitchen fires. Keep flammable materials such as dish towels, paper towels, and potholders away from the cooking area, and use a timer to remind you when food is cooking. It is also essential to have working smoke alarms installed in the home, as they provide early warning in case of a fire. In 2022, of all the home fires reported into REDCOM Fire and Medical Dispatch as “Kitchen Fires, Oven Fires, or Stove Fires”, 44% were in the City of Santa Rosa. 

Important points to remember: 

  • The most common cause of kitchen fires in residential settings are unattended cooking by leaving the stove or oven unsupervised. Food can easily burn or boil over, igniting a fire.
  • Flammable materials near heat sources: Items like paper towels, dishcloths, or curtains placed too close to stovetops or toasters can catch fire when exposed to heat.
  • Misuse of kitchen appliances: Overloading electrical circuits, using damaged cords, or using appliances improperly can lead to electrical fires.
  • Fire prevention measures and safety equipment for kitchens include:
    • Fire extinguisher: Keep a kitchen-appropriate fire extinguisher nearby and learn how to use it.
    • Stove guards: Install stove guards or use stove knob covers to prevent accidental ignition by children or pets.
    • Fire-resistant cookware: Use pots and pans made of materials that are less likely to catch fire, like stainless steel or cast iron.
    • Proper storage: Store flammable materials like paper towels and dishcloths away from heat sources.
    • Exhaust fans: Ensure that range hoods and exhaust fans are clean and functioning to remove smoke and odors.
  • Cooking oils and grease can be fire hazards if not handled properly. To safely manage these substances:
    1. Never leave hot oil or grease unattended on the stove.
    2. Use a deep-fryer thermometer to monitor oil temperature.
    3. Keep a lid nearby to smother a grease fire if it occurs; do not use water.
    4. Dispose of used cooking oil in a sealed, fire-resistant container, not down the drain.
  • In the event of a kitchen fire, homeowners should:
    • Immediately turn off the heat source (stove or oven).
    • If it's a small pan fire, cover it with a lid or use a fire extinguisher.
    • If the fire is out of control or spreading, evacuate the kitchen and close the door behind you.
    • Call 911 or the emergency number in your area.
    • Do not use water on a grease fire as it can cause the fire to spread.
    • Do not attempt to move a burning pot or pan.
    • Do not fan the flames or use a cloth to try to put out the fire.

Prioritizing safety, awareness, and preparedness can significantly reduce the risk of kitchen fires and ensure a quick response if one does occur. To learn more, view the NFPA Safety Tip Sheet Library for Kitchen and Cooking safety here, Safety Tip Sheets

For an interactive Cooking Safety quiz to review with your children click here Cooking Safety Quiz

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