The National Fire Protection Association reports that between 1999-2002, there were an average of 114,000 home fires associated with cooking equipment each year, resulting in 290 deaths and 4,380 injuries each year. The leading cause for these fires was unattended cooking.
In fact, three in 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen, and two out of three reported home cooking fires start with the range or stove.Electric ranges or stoves have a higher risk of fires, injuries and property damage, compared to gas ranges or stoves. However, gas ranges or stoves have a higher risk of fire deaths.
Because of these alarming statistics, The Hartford decided to commission Harris Interactive to create an online study of adults’ cooking habits to examine what factors were contributing to kitchen fires. The researchers questioned 2,527 adults, aged 18 and over during October 2006. Two hundred forty-three of those surveyed lived with at least one child under the age of five.
The study revealed questionable cooking habits that could increase the risk of cooking-related fires. Seventy-eight percent of those polled reported leaving an appliance such as a microwave, oven, or range unattended while cooking. One in five respondents reported leaving their house while the appliance was running.More than one-third of the respondents didn’t keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
The researchers noted that the overwhelming majority of respondents didn’t seem to know the safety rules to follow when preparing food at home. The following guidelines have been developed by The National Fire Protection Association to help families stay safe in the kitchen:
· Kids and pets should stay at least 3 feet away from the stove while cooking.
· Keep an eye on the stovetop while frying, grilling, or boiling food.
· Items that can ignite easily, such as dishtowels, curtains, or paper towels, are remain at least 3 feet away from the stove.
· Potholders or oven mitts should be within easy reach.
· Pot handles should be turned in toward the back of the stove to prevent spilling.
· If someone gets burned, pour cool water over the burn for 3 to 5 minutes.
· Be careful when removing cooked food from a microwave, because the hot steam can cause burns. Children should never use a microwave unless an adult gives them permission.