Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Fire Service urges residents to keep an eye on their cooking

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is sharing cooking safety advice throughout July and reveals that just under half of all cooking fires are caused when people are distracted or asleep.

Each year cooking causes more accidental fires in the home than anything else. In 2020, there were 260 cooking fires in Essex homes and just under half of those fires were caused when people were distracted or fell asleep while cooking.

Will Newman, Head of Prevention at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said:  

“Around 60% of accidental fires at home are started by cooking, and by keeping an eye on your cooking at all times, you can reduce the risk of a kitchen fire. It's easy to enjoy cooking more safely with a little research, planning and awareness.

“We know it’s easy to get distracted, it could be a quick phone call, you sit down to watch tv or you’re in a busy household…but if you can take simple steps like never leaving cooking on the hob unattended, this can greatly reduce the risk of a fire.

“If you do need to leave the room, remove pans on the hob from the heat or turn the heat down. Set timers for your cooking in the oven so you don’t forget about it. If you are feeling tired, we recommend you don’t cook and instead grab a takeaway or snack.

 “We’ll be sharing more advice throughout the month about outdoor cooking safety and the same advice applies, never leave things like barbeques and pizza ovens unattended.”

With bubbling pans, open flames and maybe a little one or a pet underfoot, kitchens are potentially dangerous places. To help keep you and your family safe while cooking, the Fire Service advises:

  • Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home to alert you to a fire
  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen while cooking. Take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk 
  • Not feeling 100%? Order a takeaway – if you're very tired, have been drinking alcohol or are taking medication that might make you drowsy, it's safer not to risk cooking 
  • Use spark devices to light gas cookers – they are much safer than matches or lighters, as they don’t have a naked flame. They are safer around children too 
  • 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 
  • Be fabric aware – loose clothing can easily catch fire, so take care not to lean over a hot hob, and always keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob 
  • Try to keep the oven, hob, cooker hood, extractor fan and grill clean – a built up of fat and grease can ignite and cause a fire

For more cooking safety advice, click here.

Page last updated 1 July, 2021

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