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May 19, 2024
Top Fire Causes (5 part series)
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By Member Michael Barney
January 19, 2023

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), every 23 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation. Although the number of fires and fire deaths have decreased significantly since the 1970’s, some statistics are more troubling. NFPA continues to analyze fire data to better understand the fire problem and its trends.

It is critical of homeowners to recognize these hazards and adjust their potential habits to curve trends and provide a safer home environment for the entire family. In this series we will cover each of the top fire causes of home fires and provide tips to avoid them.

The Top 5 causes of home fires are:
1. Cooking
2. Heating
3. Electrical
4. Smoking
5. Candles

In this series we will discuss each of the top five causes of home fires. Today we will look in the number one cause of home fires, Cooking.
Comeback each day to learn more of the other four causes of fires.

Cooking was the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in 2015-2019 and the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Cooking caused 49 percent of reported home fires, 20 percent of reported home fire deaths, and 42 percent of home fire injuries. In 2019, Thanksgiving was the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

That you should know about home cooking safety:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind
you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire:
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the
stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Safety considerations for cooking with oil:
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the
pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover
because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
- If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department
from outside.

Based on 2014-2018 annual averages:
- Two-thirds of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Clothing is the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but clothing ignitions caused 8% of the home cooking fire deaths.
- Ranges or cooktops account for three-fifths of home cooking fire incidents.
- Unattended equipment is a factor in one-third of reported home cooking fires and over half of the associated deaths.
- Frying dominates the cooking fire problem.

Attachment CookingSafety.pdf  (634k)

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