The public at large has been urged to stay at home, restaurants and bars are closed, and grocery stores are working diligently to keep shelves stocked. All this points to a lot more cooking in homes than usual in the weeks (or maybe even months) ahead, and that could mean an increase in home cooking fires and burns.
Cooking is the leading cause of U.S. home fires year-round, with 49 percent of all reported home fires involving cooking equipment. Moreover, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, meaning that home cooking fires occur most often when people aren’t keeping a close eye on what they’re cooking.
As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, the potential for distracted cooking may increase.
All these factors make it critically important to remind communities about best practices for cooking safely.
Fortunately, by following some simple safety precautions and guidelines in the kitchen, people can continue to cook safely while doing their part to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- Make sure all handles are turned inward, away from where someone can grab a hot handle or tip a pan over.
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, refrain from using the stove or stovetop.
- If you have young children in your home, create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
NFPA offers a wealth of additional information and resources on home cooking safety, including safety tip sheets and other materials that can be shared online and through social media. We encourage you to use these messages to help reduce the risk of cooking fires in your community, and/or feel free to share our social media content posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.