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Cooking fires are the primary cause of home fires and home fire injuries. The majority of cooking equipment fires start with the ignition of common household items (i.e., wall coverings, paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.).

Facts & Figures

According to recent statistics, 118,700 fires involved cooking equipment, with 250 deaths and 3880 injuries resulting from these fires. Kitchen fires are most often caused by:

  1. Leaving cooking food unattended
  2. Placing combustibles too close to the heat source.
  3. Unintentionally turning on or not turning off the equipment.

The Tufts Fire Marshal wants to remind the Tufts community that cooking is the leading cause of fire injuries on college campuses. Every year, college students experience a growing number of fire-related emergencies in their dorm rooms.

Safety Tips
  • Never leave cooking food on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
  • Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (i.e. potholders, towels, rags, drapes, and food packaging).
  • Keep children and pets away from cooking areas by creating a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the stove.
  • Turn pot handles inward so they can't be bumped and children can't grab them.
  • Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
  • Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
  • Always keep a potholder, oven mitt, and lid handy. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire, as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, thus spreading the fire.
  • If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing. Call the Tufts Police and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again.
  • If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the Tufts Police and make sure to have the oven serviced before you use it again. Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Remove the lids or other coverings from microwaved food carefully to prevent steam burns.
  • Only approved microwave units shall be used in Tufts buildings.
Portions of this material are reprinted with permission from the NFPA Web page, NFPA online, © 2008, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA 02269.