Commissioner's message: Kitchen fire safety

Published: 1st August 2006

As we head into the last month of winter, it is timely to reflect on fire danger in the home. Many people are unaware of the risks involved in cooking, something we do on a daily basis.

Kitchen fires account for almost half of all home fires in NSW. I urge you to take extra care in the kitchen this winter and to follow some simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

The New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB) attended 4,653 home fires in 2005/2006, with 2,174 (47%) starting in the kitchen. Many of these fires were caused by cooking left unattended and could easily have been prevented.

Other common causes of kitchen fires include mechanical malfunction of appliances, overloading powerpoints, and appliances being accidentally turned on or not turned off once cooking is completed. 

Here are some essential kitchen safety tips to help protect you, your family and your home:

  • Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket at least one metre from the stove and between the stove and the nearest exit;
  • Keep children away from hotplates and ovens while they are on, and consider installing a stove guard;
  • Never throw water on burning oil. Water can cause the fire to spread very rapidly and cause horrific burns
  • If cooking oil catches fire, turn off the hot plate and slide the lid over the pan or use a fire blanket to smother the fire.
  • Never carry pans of hot or burning oil through the house as this can lead to serious injuries. Allow the oil to cool before removing the lid as the oil may reignite.
  • Clean grillers after each use and clean range hood filters and cooking appliances regularly;
  • Ensure all electrical appliances and leads are in good working order;
  • Never overload power points with more than one double adaptor;
  • If a kitchen fire occurs and you aren’t confident you can put it out, switch off the appliance, leave, and call the NSW Fire Brigades on Triple Zero (000) from a safe phone
  • Install smoke alarms in the home, preferably in living areas rather than the kitchen. Photoelectric alarms are less prone to false alarms caused by cooking fumes;
  • Develop a home escape plan and rehearse it with the family and other residents in the home.

Fire safety factsheets

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