Almost one sixth of domestic fires attended by Northamptonshire firefighters last year involved cooking as a cause.
In 2018-2019, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) attended 335 fires in people’s homes, 51 (just over 15 per cent) of which were linked to cooking.
With many cooking fires affecting the elderly and those who live alone, NFRS is also reminding family members, neighbours and carers to keep a close eye on the cooking safety of those who might be vulnerable.
This month (February), there is a focus on cooking fires as part of the national, Fire Kills campaign, which NFRS is keen to support.
Each year the Service carries out thousands of Home Safety Checks in which experts visit the homes of elderly, immobile or vulnerable people in Northamptonshire to make sure their properties are not at risk of fire.
This valuable work includes carrying out an assessment of a person’s home to check on a variety of safety points, for example, making sure exits are clear, appliances are being used safely and that there are enough working smoke alarms throughout a property.
Darren Carson, Prevention Team Leader at NFRS, said: “Fires can be caused by becoming distracted, leaving pans unattended – perhaps even falling asleep while cooking is on.
“Across the country, cooking is known as one of the leading causes of house fires, so NFRS is keen to remind people how they can best keep safe.
“We are asking people to not only pay attention to their own cooking, but also the cooking safety of other people they know who may be vulnerable in some way. Even popping around to see an elderly neighbour to test their smoke alarms would be a thoughtful thing to do and could potentially save their life in the event of a fire.”
Home Safety Checks can be requested via the NFRS website for people over the age of 60 or those who have a physical or mental health need that affects their ability to react or escape in a fire.
For details on how to request one of these for yourself, a friend or family member, please see: https://www.northantsfire.gov.uk/safety/hsc/
10 top tips to cooking safely
- Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
- Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
- Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
- Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
- Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking.
- Take care if you need to leave the kitchen while cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.
- Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.
- Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
- Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
- Take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily.
Lastly, if a fire breaks out, remember not to tackle the fire yourself – get out, stay out and call 999.