5 MOST COMMON CAUSES OF KITCHEN FIRES
Dealing with a home kitchen fire can be an incredibly frightening experience. Despite cooking being a daily activity for most people, a fire can erupt in a matter of seconds. According to a 2022 report by the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 49 percent of all reported home fires are caused by cooking.
At SERVPRO of Palm Desert, we have witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of house fires in the Coachella Valley. We understand the structural damage and emotional toll it can take. With the holiday season being the peak time for home cooking fires, it is crucial to be aware of the five most common causes of kitchen fires. Knowing these safety risks isn't just about avoiding costly home repairs; it could save lives.
Leaving your cooking unattended
Unattended cooking is by far the leading cause of kitchen fires. Between 2018 and 2022, it was responsible for nearly 31 percent of all home fires and 53 percent of cooking fire-related deaths. Even a brief moment of distraction can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation. It's essential to remain focused on your cooking and avoid multitasking while there is an open flame or the stove is set to a high temperature. If you're feeling tired or unwell, it's best to leave the stove alone and order takeout.
Frying with oil
When frying or broiling with oil, it requires continuous attention. Approximately 66 percent of kitchen fires occur due to the ignition of cooking oil, fat, grease, butter, and other substances. Oil can accelerate the spread of fire and residue left on stovetops can ignite during future cooking sessions. To minimize risks when cooking with oil, cover the pan with enough oil to avoid submerging the food, gently add food to prevent splattering, and ensure the cooking area and countertops are clean from any oil or grease splatter. In the event of a pan catching fire, never use water to extinguish the flames as it will worsen the situation. Instead, use oven mitts to safely slide a non-glass lid onto the pan and smother the flames before turning off the stove.
Setting the cooking temperature too high
Setting your stove or oven to excessively high temperatures is highly dangerous. While the desire to cook quickly may be tempting, most kitchen fires result from food combustion, especially when combined with oil. Preheating your appliances to the recommended cooking temperature and never leaving them unattended is crucial. If you have a gas stove, ensure the flame does not rise above the top of the pot or pan. Patience and adherence to recipe instructions are key.
Wearing loose-fitting clothing around your stove
Despite accounting for less than one percent of all home cooking fires annually, clothing ignitions are responsible for a significant number of fire-related deaths. Loose and billowy clothing can catch fire if it comes into contact with a burner or gets caught on the stove. The type of fabric affects how quickly clothes catch fire, with cotton and linen burning rapidly and synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and spandex melting onto the skin. To minimize risks, it is advisable to wear fire-retardant aprons and form-fitting clothes while cooking.
Flammable compounds near open flames or heating elements
The kitchen is filled with flammable objects that should never be left near or around the stove or oven. Napkins, paper towels, rags, food packages, cookbooks, recipe cards, and wooden utensils are highly flammable and combustible items that must be kept away from cooking surfaces to prevent fires.
What should you do after experiencing a kitchen fire?
First and foremost, if you cannot control the fire, call 911 immediately! If you're dealing with the aftermath of a kitchen fire, don't hesitate to reach out to our team at SERVPRO of Palm Desert. Following a kitchen fire, several items might require replacement, including cabinets, flooring, appliances, and countertops.
Additionally, smoke can cause damage to walls and underlying materials, which may also need to be replaced. Once we evaluate the extent of the damage, we can commence with the repair and restoration process.
Remember, you play a crucial role in preventing kitchen fires. It is essential to remain mindful of these five elements whenever you use your stove or oven. In the unfortunate event of a kitchen fire, make sure to call 911 if necessary and then reach out to us at (760)SERVPRO, which is (760)737-8776. We will take care of all the existing damage and make it like it never happened.