Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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What's burning in your kitchen?

With more house fires starting in the kitchen than any other room Essex County Fire and Rescue is urging people not to let distraction turn their kitchen into a disaster zone.

Statistics for last year reveal that three quarters of the house fires in Essex started in the kitchen with distraction while cooking being a major cause of house fires throughout the County. Each year the Service is called to around 500 kitchen fires, nearly 10 a week.

There are more distractions in the home than ever before. As well as the demands of a busy family lives there are tablets, smart phones, computers and television all competing for your attention. Taking your eye off you cooking, even if it’s just for a moment, can be all it takes for a potentially devastating fire to break out.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “The kitchen isn’t just the heart of the home; it is also potentially the most dangerous room in any house. It’s a major flashpoint for fires. More house fires start in the kitchen than any other room so we are urging everyone to make sure that they take care when they're cooking.

"We know that it’s an everyday activity but it is still not something people should be blasé about and it requires your full attention. Don’t let yourself get distracted while the hob or grill is on and make sure you pay attention when you’re cooking.

“Just a moment’s distraction could lead to a fire which could turn you into the killer in your kitchen.”

To make sure you stay as safe as possible in the kitchen:

•Avoid leaving cooking unattended and never leave children in the kitchen alone.
•Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – they can easily catch fire.
•Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
•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. If the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool. Ideally cook oven chips but if you are deep fat frying then use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer - they can’t overheat.
•Never try to cook after a night out drinking. It is far better to grab a kebab on the way home than to attempt to cook while intoxicated.

The best way to stay safe in the home is to fit and regularly test smoke alarms. If you would like to arrange for a free home fire safety visit, during which smoke alarms will be fitted free of charge, then call us on 0300 303 0088 or email webmaster@essex-fire.gov.uk

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