Encore Years

Cooking fire safety: watch what you heat

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Many families gather in the kitchen to spend time together, but it can be one of the most hazardous rooms in your home if you don’t practice safe cooking behaviors. Cooking equipment, most often the range, stovetop or microwave, is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States.  Cooking equipment is also the leading cause of unreported fires and associated injuries.

Adults over the age of 65 are twice as likely to die in a cooking-related home fire.  Adults 85 years and over are four times as likely to die from a burn injury.  Therefore, E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety offers some safety tips you can follow to prevent these fires, fatalities and injuries:

  • Be on alert!  If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the oven or stovetop.
  • Stand By Your Pan!  Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, 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, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer or take a utensil or oven mitt with you 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.
  • Turn handles of pots and pans to the side so you don't accidentally bump them and spill the contents. 
  • Cook on back burners first to avoid young hands from touching hot burners or hot pans. 
  • Keep kids away from the cooking area.  Maintain a 3-foot kid free zone away from things that are hot and can burn (the stove, oven, microwave, or food).
  • Have activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time.  Games, puzzles or books can keep them busy.  Kids can also get involved in Thanksgiving preparations with recipes that can be done outside the kitchen.
  • Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.  Loose clothing can easily catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  • Check the kitchen after you finish cooking to make sure the oven burners and other appliances are turned off.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working and are located on every level of your home.  Test them by pushing the test button.  Never place a smoke alarm in the kitchen to avoid nuisance activations from cooking odors.

For more ways to protect your home from fire, read these tips AARP’s website for fire prevention: https://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2016/fire-safety-tips.html


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About Jennifer Feuerstein

Jennifer Feuerstein is the WOTV 4 Encore Years expert, offering advice on all things 50+. She’s a community organizer, activist, public speaker and writer on issues related to older adults and the encore years. She is Associate State Director for AARP Michigan and uses her voice in her various roles to fight against ageism in our society.

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