Home cooking related fires continue to be a leading cause of fire loss within the United States. In the November 2011 NFPA report, Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment, Marty Ahrens found that between the years of 2005 through 2009, there were 155,400 home cooking related fires per year reported in the United States. Those fires resulted in an average of 390 fatalities, 4800 injuries, and $771 million in property damage and loss. The report goes on to state that ranges and cooktops were the equipment involved in 58% of these reported fires and the factor associated with 84% of fatalities, 77% of injuries, and 71% of property damage.

The information provided in Ahrens’ report alone is a firm reason for the development of fire safety solutions, including new technologies, to reduce home cooking fires. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the home appliance industry began reviewing strategies to mitigate death, injury, and property loss from cooking fires, with a focus on cooking-range technologies in the 1980’s. In 2010, NIST asked the Fire Protection Research Foundation to develop the next steps in an action plan for improving cooking safety. The Foundation reviewed new technological approaches to reducing home cooking related fires and has recently released its report, Home Cooking Fire Mitigation: Technology Assessment, which identifies types of prevention technologies that can be used with home cooking appliances. The report includes an in-depth assessment of cooking fire scenarios, a review of current and emerging technologies, and development of an assessment methodology to consider the utility and effectiveness of mitigation technologies against a range of fire and use scenarios and other criteria.

While fire safety solutions are helpful in the prevention of home cooking fires, educating yourself and your family about cooking related high-risk behaviors can also be extremely beneficial. There are many tips to keep in mind while cooking that can help protect you and your family from home cooking related fires. These include:

  • When cooking, wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves. If clothing is loose, it can come into contact with stove burners and catch fire.
  • Keep cooking areas clean and free of combustible materials – built-up grease can catch fire in the oven or stovetop – wrappers and other materials near the stove can also catch fire.
  • Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – if you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove. Unattended equipment fires account for 34% of home cooking related fires.

For tips on what to do in the event a fire starts while you’re cooking, check out this video.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.