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If you begin thinking about common causes of house fires it wouldn’t come as a surprise to most that the overwhelming majority begin in the kitchen. The #1 cause of house fires and burn injuries, kitchen fires take place in over 166,000 homes every year! The number one cause? Unattended cooking equipment. For most, this means a frying pan left on a burner that got too hot, or an oven or broiler left on too long. In this post we will outline some common sense precautions every homeowner can take to greatly reduce the risk of a potentially deadly fire in your home.

#1 Cooking Oil

Cooking oil is used across virtually every household in America at some point or another throughout the year. A key ingredient necessary for frying foods and/or sauteing vegetables, cooking oil is a primary cause for sudden and sever stove-top fires. On an electric stove top, changes of fires are reduced as open flames that occur with gas top stoves are not a factor in “jumping the pan” and igniting the oil. A smart home cook will always heat their cooking oil slowly, never leave it unattended on the stove, and will allow oil to completely cool before responsibly disposing of used up product.

Extra Safety Tip: Keep a lid large enough to cover the pan or skillet you are using at arms reach when cooking. This can be quickly laid atop an ignitied pan to smother flames and prevent fire from jumping the pan onto other surfaces in your kitchen!

#2 Ovens

With ovens, foods are either roasted, baked, simmered, or broiled over longer periods of time than most stove top meals. Temperature is controlled from a dial on the outside of the stove, most of the time no open flame is visible, and the likelihood of a fire seems much less than with an open flame on the stove top. The main issue here is forgetfulness. Whether that be forgetting to check on your meal while it cooks, or forgetting to turn off the stove after it has finished. It is always wise to set a timer whenever cooking a meal in the oven. Even if you’ve cooked the meal a thousand times, a timer give you peace of mind that you will not over cook your meal, and more importantly, that you will remember to turn off you stove when its finished!

Extra Safety Tip: Napkins, paper towels, wooden spoons, and dish towels are all extremely flammable. They should be kept away from heat sources at all times!

#3 Sleepiness & Alcohol

When cooking in the late evening or early morning it is always wise to be mindful of how tired you are and may become. To stay alert is to stay safe, so it is always highly recommended that you are never too sleepy or distracted to properly watch over and manage your cooking. The consumption of alcohol can be an enjoyable experience when cooking, especially around the holidays when roasts and oven cooked meats are commonly cooked in the US. Be sure to drink responsibly at all times, especially when baking or frying foods with a house full of guests!

Extra Safety Tip: There are many factors that will determine whether it is better to try and fight or put out a kitchen fire when one occurs. Fire extinguishers should always be kept on hand to put out potentially fatal fires. Your safety and the safety of your loved ones should always take precedent when dealing with a house fire. If you’re unsure what to do in the event of a fire, the safest possible option is to collect your family, exit your home, and immediately call 911!