Fire Risk: The Most Dangerous Room in Your Home
Each year, 150,000 home fires begin in the same place: the kitchen. More fires begin here, in the heart of the home, than in any other room.
Many of us have had brushes with cooking mishaps—a burnt meal that fills your kitchen with smoke, or a fork mistakenly put in the microwave that causes sparks. After the danger was past, you may have laughed these minor accidents off (while calling to order takeout), but they can quickly become highly dangerous and even deadly. In fact, 90% of all fire fatalities are due to kitchen fires.
There are multiple appliances in the kitchen that pose a fire risk, but these risks all stem from the same activity: cooking. Kitchen fires peak between 5–9 PM, making dinner time the most dangerous time of day for a home fire.
Today’s busy world pulls our attention in many directions at once, so it’s no surprise that the top cause of kitchen fires is food left unattended while cooking. The phone rings, the news comes on, a child calls for homework help, or another task in the kitchen demands our attention—whatever it is, we become distracted, and in the ensuing minutes or even seconds, tragedy can strike. On the stovetop, oil or grease can ignite or spatter flammable items left nearby, such as a cookbook or a dish towel.
How to Prevent Kitchen Fires
- Never leave food in the oven or on the stovetop unattended. This means you should be alert and focused while cooking—minimize distractions like TV and phone calls and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. If you are feeling drowsy or have taken a sleep aid, avoid cooking altogether.
- Keep flammable items away from the stove. This includes cookbooks and paper or plastic food packaging as well as textiles such as dish towels, curtains, and potholders.
- Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen while cooking. If this isn’t possible, establish a safe zone for children in the kitchen, using safety gates or floor markings to keep them away from the stove.
- Wipe down appliance surfaces frequently. Highly flammable grease can build up if not cleaned after cooking.
- Be fully prepared for a fire. Have smoke alarms installed and change the batteries twice a year, have a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it, and learn what to do if a fire does start on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Whatever your level of experience or style of cooking, a kitchen fire can happen to anyone. It’s important to stay vigilant—but for the best protection, have a fire alarm system installed. Think about your current smoke detectors: How sure are you that they are properly installed and fully functional? Are the batteries fresh? Have they been tested for sensitivity? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you shouldn’t trust your life, and the lives of your family, to your smoke detectors.
With a thorough home inspection, a professional can pinpoint the best locations for smoke detectors and recommend products that meet your needs. In addition to the installation, Alarms of Berkshire County will visit and inspect your system annually and help provide critical emergency response. 150,000 homes are impacted by kitchen fires each year—but yours doesn’t have to be one of them.