Barry Klatt

Barry Klatt

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Heat source; home fires start in the kitchen

A new report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) finds that cooking fires are the leading cause of home structure fires and home-fire injuries.

Between 2005 and 2009, an average of 2,650 people died each year and an average of 12,890 people were injured in home fires. Cooking fires were the leading cause of those fires (40 percent) and associated injuries (36 percent). The majority of these cooking fires were initiated by the ignition of food or cooking materials. In less than 1 percent of cooking fires, clothing was ignited first, but that led to a disproportionate 15 percent of cooking-fire fatalities.

In order to avoid these unnecessary dangers, follow these safety tips from NFPA:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking. If you leave, be sure to turn off the stove.
  • If you are baking, boiling or simmering food, check it frequently and do not leave the house.
  • Make sure there is nothing on or near the stove top that would easily catch on fire.

And in the case of a fire:

  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking in order to smother grease fires. If a grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the lid on until everything cools.
  • If an oven fire begins, shut off the oven and keep the oven door closed.
  • Do not try to fight the fire yourself (59 percent of non-fatal injuries happened when victims tried to snuff the flames on their own).
  • Leave the house and call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

If you’re in the market for new appliances, read our buying advice for ranges and cooktops and wall ovens. Consider one with safety features that will let you know if the surface is still hot and lock the controls so children can’t turn the unit on.


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