Between 2005 and 2007, an estimated 108,400 winter residential fires occurred each year in the US. Each year these fires cause an approximate 950 deaths, 3,800 injuries and result in $1,710,000,000 worth of property damage and loss. The majority of all residential winter fires occur in the evening, peaking from 5pm to 8pm and then decline throughout the evening. This peak time frame for fires is not surprising considering that most residential fires begin in the kitchen.
Cooking fires are the leading cause of all residential building fires at an astounding 42%! When looking at this same equation during the winter months, when you would expect a large number of residential fires to also be from heating elements, furnaces, space heaters etc. the percentage of fires beginning as kitchen fires is still amazingly high at 36%! Without a doubt, kitchen fires are, by far, the leading area of fire origin for residential winter fires. Prevention should be first and foremost on everyone’s fire safety list.
Fire Safety Tips
Kitchen fire prevention can be accomplished with several simple safety tips! Never store things on top of, in or around your oven. Keep all flammables away from the stove including dishtowels, cereal boxes etc. Never use your oven for storage, even if you don’t turn it on – the pilot light can ignite objects inside. Always keep pot handles turned in towards the stove. Pot and frying pan handles should never hang over the stove’s edge; this is a major cause of serious burns in young children and the elderly. Never leave an oven or stove that is on unattended.
It only takes a few minutes for a fire to get seriously out of hand. Make sure to always check on anything cooking on the stovetop or in the oven regularly. If unattended cooking fires are a concern, consider installing a prevention aid such as a Stove Guard that will automatically turn off the oven/stovetop if left unattended. Use your stove only as directed. Always be cautious when relighting pilot lights; be sure to use long stemmed matches or barbecue type lighter. If you own a gas stove and smell gas beyond a burnt out pilot light, turn off all burners, open windows and call your gas company.
Never use your stove (gas or electric) to heat your home. Avoid wearing potentially dangerous clothing while cooking. Clothing with long, loose-fitting sleeves, outfits with fringe or hanging strings should be avoided while cooking to prevent your clothing from catching fire. If your clothing catches on fire, immediately stop, drop and roll!