Residential fires are a serious cause for concern, especially when you have to worry about losing your children, your loved ones, or your pets in a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.”
The NFPA has this advice for everyone about cooking safety:
- Be alert while you’re cooking! Do not use the stove or stovetop if you’re fatigued or have been drinking alcohol.
- Stay inside the kitchen while you’re boiling, frying, grilling, or broiling.
- If you’re baking, roasting, or simmering food, check it frequently and stay in the kitchen while the food is still cooking.
- When cooking, use a timer to remind you.
- Keep flammables like oven mitts, food packaging, paper towels, hand towels, curtains, and wooden utensils away from the stovetop.
- Smother grease fires with a lid. Cover the fire with a lid and turn off the stovetop. Keep the pan covered with the lid until everything has cooled completely.
- If there is a fire in the oven, turn off the heat, and do not open the door; keep it shut!
- If there is a microwave fire, close the microwave door and unplug the microwave.
If a fire ignites while you’ve been cooking, the NFPA says to get out and call 911! When you run out of the house, close the door behind you as this will help contain the fire. If you do try to fight the fire, make sure everyone in the house gets outside and you have a clear path to escape.
When Faulty Appliances Cause Fires
Aside from cooking, another cause of kitchen fires is faulty appliances. According to Consumer Reports, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission, using estimates from 2006 through 2008, says that major appliances caused more than 150,000 residential fires each year, resulting in 3,670 injuries, 150 deaths, and $547 million dollars in property damage. (If you experience an appliance fire, report it to SaferProducts.gov, a CPSC website.”
Of course, human error plays a role in some small appliance fires, but after Consumer Reports conducted an in-depth analysis of federal fire date, it found that only about half of appliance fires can be blamed on human mistakes, such as unattended cooking as we mentioned earlier.
“Much of the rest appear to be due to problems with the appliances themselves, according to our review of safety records, fire reports, and court documents,” says CR. Often, faulty appliances that catch fire turn into product liability lawsuits, a breed of personal injury law.