Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. The majority of cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of cooking oil from overheating. Cooking equipment fires also ignite common household items such as paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.
Avoid cooking fires
- Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
- When fresh cooking oil is heated beyond 200°C, flammable vapours are formed. Reused oil, which may have food residues, will foam, smoke and catch fire at a lower temperature than fresh oil.
- If water is added to a flaming pot of oil with a temperature above 200°C, it turns the water into superheated steam to cause an explosive ball of fire, spreading tiny droplets of flaming oil to engulf the kitchen area. In addition to a house fire, burn injury and even death is possible in these incidents. Never pour or throw water into a grease fire.
- The best way to fry foods is to use a temperature controlled deep-fat fryer or skillet, which is designed for a maximum temperature of 200°C. These appliances prevent overheating and ignition of cooking oil.
- In case of a cooking oil fire, do not move the pot or pan, or throw water on the flames. Simply slide a tight fitting lid over the pot or pan to smother the flames and turn off the heat and exhaust fan.
- Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles such as potholders, towels, drapes and food packaging.
- Keep children and pets away from cooking areas by creating a one-metre (three-foot) "kidfree zone" around the stove.
- Turn pot handles inward so they can't be bumped and children can't grab them.
- Wear short, tight fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing.
- If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings from food cooked in the microwaved carefully to prevent steam burns.
- Avoid cooking when sleepy or drowsy from medication or alcohol.
- Do not use defective electric appliances; have them checked and serviced.