Of all the reasons a fire may occur in the home environment, cooking is one of the most common causes. Each year firefighters are called out to respond to hundreds upon hundreds of cooking fires in Australia which can result in the loss of one’s home, burn injuries or even fatalities in extreme cases. Fire authorities report varying figures of between 40-50% of all residential house fires originating in the kitchen.

Why is this the case? The truth is that even where residents have smoke alarms and have regular smoke alarm maintenance conducted, common sense doesn’t always prevail in the kitchen. People are not as prepared as they should be and don’t always pay as much attention to what they are doing as they should either. The key to protecting yourself from a kitchen fire is knowing the risks, and what to do to minimise them.

The number one rule is simple enough – never leave cooking unattended! But that’s just the start. Below is a checklist of safety tips we strongly encourage you to observe.

To prevent a kitchen fire:

  1. Never leave cooking unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, be sure to turn off the hotplate.
  2. Buy a fire blanked and a portable dry chemical fire extinguisher that meets Australian standards.
  3. Use extra caution when cooking with oils, heat them slowly and use an appropriately sized pan.
  4. Turn pot and pan handles inward, away from your body, to avoid knocking them over.
  5. Keep children at a safe distance from hotplates and ovens whilst cooking.
  6. Turn off cooking appliances after use.
  7. Keep tea towels and oven mitts at a safe distance from stoves and cook tops.

If a kitchen fire occurs:

  1. Do not throw water on to an oil or fat fire. Put it out using a fire blanket, dry chemical powder fire extinguisher or cooking lid.
  2. Do not move or carry a pan that has caught alight. This may cause injury or further spread the fire through spillage.
  3. If an oven fire occurs, smother the fire by turning the oven off and closing the oven door. Wait 60 seconds. If the fire continues to burn evacuate immediately and call 000.
  4. If a kitchen fire occurs and you don’t feel comfortable putting it out, turn off the appliance and escape to a safe distance before calling 000.

As always, make sure you have a working smoke detector and do not neglect regular smoke alarm testing. Only working smoke alarms save lives.