While cooking at home may not be as convenient as ordering out, doctors agree it’s way better for our waistlines. Indeed, researchers at John Hopkins University recently found a direct correlation between a person’s health and how often they cooked at home. People who cooked more than six times per week ate fewer calories, fat, and sugar versus those that only cooked once per week.
There’s no denying that cooking from home is an excellent part of a healthy lifestyle. However, there’s a significant danger associated with home-cooked meals: the risk of fire.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests most home fires start in the kitchen in the USA. According to data between 2015 – 2019, about 49 percent of total home fires were related to a cooking accident. Researchers also believe 42 percent of fire-related injuries and 20 percent of fatalities are related to cooking.
People who enjoy cooking in the oven or stovetop should always keep fire safety in mind while at home.
How Do Most At-Home Cooking Fires Start? — A Review Of The Statistics
Despite the technological advances in home appliances, cooking-related fires seem to be rising. According to the NFPA, there are more fire-related deaths at home between 2014 – 2018 versus data from the early 1980s. Statisticians now suggest there are about 470 at-home cooking fires each day.
There are many ways fires could start at home, but most cases involve “flaming food.” Indeed, the NFPA estimates over 60 percent of these cooking fires happen after food or a flammable cooking utensil starts burning.
Frying remains the most accident-prone cooking style. NFPA researchers also suggest cooktops and ranges are involved in most fires on residential properties.
Fire safety experts claim that many people involved in at-home cooking fires walked away from their stove while it was running. In fact, at least one-third of people involved in cooking fires claimed they weren’t in the kitchen when their appliance sparked a fire. Unfortunately, these unattended cases killed about 50 percent of cooking fire victims.
The NFPA also claims cooking with loose-fitting clothing dramatically increases the risk of death. Even though about one percent of cooking fires started with clothing, they were responsible for eight percent of total deaths.
Researchers also claim there’s a significant rise in “non-fire” burn cases each year. These injuries could be almost as severe as touching a flame, but they involve other scorching-hot items.
For instance, a recent NFPA report found that 15,100 Americans went to the ER between 2015 – 2019 after touching a hot oven or stove. Other common non-burn injuries include handling hot cookware, cups, or tableware.
As a final note, home chefs should be most cautious during the holiday season. The Red Cross suggests most home fires happen in the fall and winter. NFPA reports also claim big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving have higher-than-average home-fire calls.
Crucial Safety Tips For Cooking At Home
Arguably, the simplest and most effective way to prevent cooking fires is to stay in the kitchen until your food is done. While that may seem obvious, it’s common for at-home chefs to leave appliances unattended while they’re on. As mentioned above, a large percentage of fatal cooking fires happened while people weren’t paying attention to their stove, oven, or another electrical device.
At-home chefs must monitor the cooking process carefully. It’s also crucial for people to cook when they’re sober and fully awake. When cooking, everyone should wear short sleeves or tight-fitting shirts.
When cooking on the stovetop, people should have a lid nearby to capture flames if a fire starts. Chefs should also watch out for signs of smoke, as this could signal your cooking oil has reached its smoke point.
Always keep flammable items like towels, oven mitts, and wooden spoons far from a stovetop. It’s also not a good idea to store anything in the oven while it’s not in use.
It’s also essential to minimize distractions while cooking. Keep children and pets far from the kitchen when you’re in “cooking mode.” You should also turn off TVs, phones, or tablets, and never cook with earbuds or headphones over your ears.
If you leave the kitchen for whatever reason, you must shut all appliances off. Only resume cooking when you’re sure you can stay by your food until it’s cooked through.
Please never put metal or steel utensils in a microwave, as these could ignite a fire. Aluminum foil will also trigger sparks in the microwave.
On the subject of microwaving, it’s important to take extra care with any liquids you put into this unit. While it’s OK to heat water or soup in microwave-safe bowls, keep in mind these items will reach a boiling temperature much faster than on the stovetop. When mishandled, microwaved water could cause significant burns.
Every home should have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen for emergencies. Be sure to review how to use your extinguisher at least once per year. It’s also essential to go over a fire evacuation strategy with your family.
If a fire ever breaks out in your kitchen, the most important thing to do is to get outside ASAP. You could try to contain the fire with the lid or a fire extinguisher; however, please always put your safety first.
Get everyone out of the house and shut the doors behind you. Once you’re outside, call 911 for help.
Stir-Fry With Safety In Mind! — Avoid Fires While Cooking At Home
Cooking at home is a great way to save money, improve your health, and enjoy ultra-fresh ingredients. Plus, home-cooked meals have a magical way of bringing family and friends together.
However, please don’t forget to keep fire safety in mind as you prepare these delicious meals. Always double-check your stove and oven have nothing nearby that could catch on fire. Take great care when handling food in pans or pots, and always keep a lid at the ready in case of emergencies.
If you keep these common-sense strategies in mind, you should enjoy countless home-cooked meals without danger.