Cooking Fires

  • 82% of all fire deaths occur in the home
  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States, it is also the leading cause of fire injuries
  • Deaths due to fires caused by cooking are particularly preventable
  • Having a working smoke alarm reduces one's chance of dying in a fire by nearly a half

Cooking Fires Life-Saving Tips

  • Always wear short, tight-fitting sleeves when cooking
  • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup which can ignite
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house, make sure all small appliances are turned off
  • Heat oil gradually to avoid burns from spattering grease, use extra caution when preparing deep-fried foods
  • If a fire breaks out while cooking, put a lid on the pan to smother it; never throw water on a grease fire
  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year; consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened
  • Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames and heating elements
  • Never leave cooking unattended, a serious fire can start in just seconds
  • Never use the range or oven to heat your home

Grease Fires

  • Have a portable fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it, make sure it is charged at all times
  • If a grease fire erupts in a pan on top of the stove, quickly and carefully cover the pan with a lid or a larger pan; never use water
  • If the fire is in the oven, turn the controls off and close the door tightly, this will smother the flames
  • If you suspect there may be fire still smoldering somewhere in the cabinets or the woodwork after such an experience, don't hesitate to call 911


  • Do not allow appliance cords to dangle over the edge of counter tops or tables, children may pull at them and injure themselves, or you may catch them unintentionally and pull them off the counter
  • Do not overload electrical circuits, unplug appliances when not in use; If an appliance smells funny, doesn't function correctly, or has frayed or broken wiring, have it repaired or replaced
  • Use only appliances that have received an Underwriters' Laboratory or Factory Mutual testing label

Microwave Ovens

Burns associated with the use or misuse of microwave ovens are increasing. The scald burn is the most common type of burn and most involve the hands. The age distribution is rather broad, but there continues to be a large number of young children who sustain the more serious burns. The single most common cause of burn injury is simply the fact that people do not expect items heated in the microwave oven to present the same risk as items heated by other more conventional means. The fact that a food container may not be hot may mislead an individual to assume that the food itself is not really hot - thus a burn injury occurs.

  • Be sure children are old enough to understand the safe use of microwave ovens before allowing them to heat foods, children under the age of seven may not be able to read and follow directions and are at a higher risk potential than older children
  • Check for the presence of metal when reheating some fast food items; aluminum foil, staples in bags, twist-ties, etc. may become very hot and ignite combustible containers
  • Children who are permitted to operate the microwave oven should be tall enough to be able to safely remove items from the oven; one major risk is facial burns, which occur among children whose height puts their face at the level of the heating chamber of the microwave oven
  • Eggs should be removed from the shell before being cooked in the microwave oven, the egg in a shell may explode causing both mechanical and thermal injuries
  • Identify containers, dishes and utensils that are safe for use in the microwave oven; some items are not microwave safe and may become very hot or even burst when heated in the microwave oven
  • Puncture plastic pouches and plastic wrap covering before heating. This will reduce the risk of a vapor pressure build up and prevent steam burns
  • Put a cut in potato skins or other vegetables to reduce the risk of bursting when you cut into it after it is heated
  • When using smooth vessels for heating liquids, place a plastic spoon in the vessel during the heating process, this will prevent the super heated phenomenon that may result in liquid spattering and scald burns