Kitchen Fires: The Number One Cause of House Fires

Don't panic, and don't use water to put out the fire.

Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die in fires, and more than 20,000 are injured. What’s the reason? Sadly, cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S., and the leading cause of injuries. Each year, these fires result in over $900 million in damage.

Kitchen fires rarely stay contained in the kitchen, and can grow quickly from a small area to engulfing the entire room, and usually spread to the rest of the house. It is National Fire Prevention Week, so we at BMR Insurance Agency would like to pass along some tips for fire safety in the kitchen.

Guess what’s also on the calendar’s horizon? Holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve! Soon, the kitchen will become the busiest place in the house, with recipes new and old being transformed into delicious treats for the table. One minute away from the stove and that hastily placed pot holder or plastic spoon could catch on fire! Here’s a video from CBS News that shows how quickly a kitchen fire can escalate into something uncontrollable.

Do you get it now? It’s so easy for a happy occasion to turn into something tragic. So please follow these tips below this holiday season—and every other day of the year.

  1. This one should already be checked off the list—although we know that changing the batteries on a smoke alarm is annoying, but it can save your life. Consider installing one of the new 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarms, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened.
  2. Never leave food cooking on the stove unattended—fire can start in just seconds and spread before you can keep it contained.
  3. Double-check the kitchen before you leave the house or go to bed. Make sure all small appliances are turned off, or better yet, unplugged.
  4. Always wear either short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  5. Don’t cook if you’re under the influence of alcohol, taking medication that causes drowsiness, or are overly tired. This can cause not just fires, but injuries with knives, steam and other kitchen implements.
  6. Never use the stovetop or oven to heat your home.
  7. Keep towels, pot holders and curtains away from flames and heating elements.
  8. Clean cooking surfaces regularly; grease can build up and ignite more easily than you imagine.
  9. Heat oil gradually to prevent burns from spatters.
  10. Use ONLY baking soda or a fire extinguisher, if a fire breaks out during cooking. You can also use a pan lid to smother the fire. NEVER throw water on a cooking fire!
  11. Don’t try to move or carry a pan that contains hot grease, and definitely don’t when it’s on fire. Although this may be your first instinct, it often results in spreading the fire and burns to the person carrying the pan.
  12. Don’t hesitate to call the fire department! Even if you continue to put out the fire with baking soda or a fire extinguisher, even small fires can easily rage out of control in seconds.

Remember: safety first. Make sure every person is out of the house before anything else, even calling 911. We’re sure you’ve made sure that your home and contents are covered in case of a fire—are you? If not, please call BMR Insurance Agency for an insurance check-up. It’s completely free! Don’t wait until after disaster strikes. Take the time to make sure you’re covered now: (714) 838-1911 or click here to send us an email.

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