Food is a great way to bring people together, and putting a meal together is a daily occurrence for some. Many, however, overlook the risk that comes with cooking. Most home fires occur while cooking in the kitchen, which makes cooking the leading cause of fire injuries. Awareness about potential fire hazards and taking simple precautions in the kitchen can go a long way. Each year, more than 2,500 people perish and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States. Direct property loss due to home fires is estimated at $7.3 billion annually, according to Ready.gov.

To avoid home fires that could lead to costly homeowners insurance claims or injuries, check out these cooking safety tips:

  1. Watch What You Heat.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer as a reminder.
  1. Keep Things That Can Catch Fire Away from a Heat Source.
  • Keep oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains – away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean. Clean up spilled food and grease from burners and the stovetop.
  • Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  1. Keep Children and Pets Away from the Cooking Area.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner. According to the American Burn Association, between 9% – 20% of cooking-related injuries occur to young children while pulling hot food/liquids from microwave ovens.
  1. Prevent Home Kitchen Fires.
  • Heat cooking oil slowly to avoid burns from spattering grease.
  • Make sure to turn off the stove or oven when you are finished using it.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house. Make sure all appliances are turned off.
  1. Be Prepared for a Fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Water and grease are a dangerous combination which can cause hot grease to splatter.
  • If you are cooking and a fire starts, turn off the stove or burner and put a lid on the pan to stop it.
  • Make sure your smoke alarm works. A working smoke alarm greatly reduces your chances of being stuck in a fire.
  • Prepare an escape plan and practice it twice a year. Have a common meeting place for everyone to gather. Make sure everyone in your family knows at least two (2) escape routes from their bedrooms.

To make sure your home is protected, talk to a Prepared Agent today!