Make Your Kitchen Safe

A moment’s distraction while cooking, being careless with kitchen appliances – it’s easy to see why most fires in the home start in the kitchen.

Kitchen Fire Safety - The Basics

The cooker

  • keep electrical leads from trailing over or going near the cooker
  • don't hang tea-towels or cloths on or over the cooker and don't put oven gloves down on the cooker after you've used them
  • keep the oven, hob and grill clean as a build-up of fat and bits of food can start a fire
  • don't leave pans on the hob when you're not around - take them off the heat if you have to leave the kitchen (even if you think it will only be for a moment, while you answer the door or phone)
  • spark devices are safer than matches or lighters to light gas cookers, because they don’t have a naked flame.

Electrical items in the kitchen

  • keep electrical leads away from water
  • don't put a plant pot or anything wet on top of an electrical appliance
  • check the toaster is clean and well away from curtains; empty the crumb tray regularly
  • don't overload sockets - use one plug in each socket. Remember – high-rated appliances like washing machines always need their own socket
  • always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating
  • make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it
  • don't run extension cables across the floor, as they can become worn
  • electrical appliances, especially those that work at high speeds, such as the washing machine - should be serviced each year
  • don't leave appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers on at night
  • check that your kettle is not leaking – this can be dangerous

The microwave

  • don't put anything that is made of metal, or has a metallic finish or parts, in the microwave
  • don't dry clothes in the microwave


  • check regularly that the ventilation in your kitchen is working properly and is not blocked up, especially if you have a gas cooker


  • buy a smoke alarm fitted with a "hush button", so if it goes off accidentally you can silence it instantly and aren’t tempted to remove the battery (except to change it for a new one)
  • consider having a fire blanket in your kitchen, mounted on the wall where you can get to it easily and quickly

Cook safely

Most kitchen fires occur when people are distracted or leave things unattended, so remember:

  • if you're called away from the cooker - by the phone or someone at the door for example, take pans off the heat
  • don't let yourself be distracted while cooking
  • don't cook if you're affected by alcohol or prescription drugs
  • turn saucepans so that their handles don't stick out (and aren't over another ring)
  • don't put oven gloves or tea-towels down onto the hot cooker after you've used them
  • clean your grill pan after using it
  • take care when cooking with hot oil – it sets alight easily
  • make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil so it doesn’t splash
  • if the oil starts to smoke – it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • use a thermostat controlled electric deep fat fryer. They can't overheat
  • avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and sauce pan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.

Deep-fat frying presents more dangers in your kitchen. Follow these tips for safer deep-frying:

  • never fill a chip pan (or other deep-fat fryer) more than one-third full of oil
  • consider using a thermostatically controlled deep-fat fryer - this will ensure that the fat does not get too hot

If you do have a chip pan fire:

  • call 999 immediately
  • never move the pan
  • turn off the heat - only if it's safe for you to do so
  • never use water on chip pan fires as this will cause a fireball

Dealing with a fire in your kitchen

If you do have a fire in the kitchen, don't take any risks - get everyone out of your home and call 999.

If a pan catches fire: The following steps should only be taken if you are very confident to do so – if in doubt close the door on the Fire, get everyone out of the house and dial 999

  • don't move it - it is likely to be extremely hot
  • turn off the heat if it's safe to do so - but never lean over a pan to reach the controls
  • if you have a fire blanket, put it over the pan
  • don't use a fire extinguisher on a pan of oil - the force of the extinguisher can spread the fire
  • if you have put the fire out, leave the pan to cool completely

If you have an electrical fire in the kitchen:

  • pull the plug out, or switch off the power at the fuse box - this may be enough to stop the fire immediately
  • smother the fire with a fire blanket, or use a dry powder or carbon dioxide extinguisher
  • remember: never use water on an electrical fire