Cooking appliance fires: Hazards and prevention.

Following on with the theme of common residential fire hazards, fires caused by cooking appliances have an important place on this fire prevention blog series. It is widely known that cookers cause more damage and fatalities than any other home appliance.

Taking the appropriate safety measures when using oven and hobs can help reduce the risks of cooking fires in your home. So, keep reading this blog post as it outlines the substantial fire hazards that cooking appliances have on fire statistics. It will also outline the preventative measures that you can put into place to keep your family safe.

Open flames from gas hobs and ovens, common in kitchen cooking appliances, pose a hazardous source of ignition. A common example is the ignition of discarded cooking oils and grease by the open flames.

The effects that over-heated pans have on grease can be seen in the following image. Once the grease reaches its autoignition temperature, it can ignite to cause widespread damage to the kitchen and the rest of the home.

Cooking fires are often traced to people engaging in unsafe behaviour. A large proportion of fire deaths have been caused to the consumption of alcohol. Coming in from a night out, turning on the cooker to make food and falling asleep is a statistic seen all too often in fire deaths.

So, what do you do if a kitchen fire occurs in your home?

  • The most important thing is to prioritise your own safety. If you cannot carefully extinguish the fire, leave the property and call the fire brigade.

Life preservation over bricks and mortar!

  • If a grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by sliding the lid – over the pan. Never throw water on it. The water would only increase the dangers involved, as water can boil and change to steam. Not only can this steam burn, it can also cause the fire to spread.
  • If a fire starts in the oven, keep the door closed and turn off the heat supply. Keeping the door closed will help smother the flames. Don’t open the door until the flames have gone out.

How can we prevent such fires occurring in the first place?

  1. I am going to start this section with a simple one. Turn your pot handles inward and out of harms way. Especially away from young children who may not know the hazards involved.
  2. Keep your hob free from combustible materials, including rags, curtains, etc. If something catches fire on the stove, it is less likely to spread if there are minimum flammable materials nearby.
  3. This next one may seem obvious but contributes to many cooking appliance fires. Never leave your cooking unattended. If you must leave the room, turn off the cooker.
  4. Something that I was once partial to, is taking the battery out of the smoke alarm if my cooking caused it to go off. I am not alone in this either. National Fire Protection Association reported that 29 percent of consumers reported to have disabled their smoke alarms while cooking. Yes, the sound is annoying, but what happens if we forget to replace the battery.
  5. I have been involved with several scenes were the homeowner’s cooking has ignited their clothing. It may be common sense but wear tight-fitting clothing. Loose clothing can hang down onto hot surfaces and can catch fire if it meets a gas flame.
  6. Always keep hobs and ovens clean from grease spills. Built-up grease can concentrate in both and catch fire.
  7. You should have a fire blanket in the kitchen, somewhere where it is easily assessible.
  8. Hot grease should never be thrown into the bin, let it cool first. This grease can ignite combustible materials in the bin.

We have enough to be worrying about in our daily lives without having to worry about the stress of fire. Take time to understand the fire dangers related to cooking, learn how to prevent them and what actions to take if a cooking fire starts. If we teach our kids of the importance of fire prevention, we may see fewer fire deaths in our homes.

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