Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin Charitable Foundation

Working to create a fire-safe and burn-free Wisconsin

Kitchen Fires

Q: In which room of the house or apartment do you think the most house fires are started?

A: Here’s a hint: has anyone in your family ever cooked something too long, and it started burning and getting smoky in the air? If you are thinking about the kitchen, you are right. The kitchen is actually the most common room where house fires are started.

Q: What are the most common causes of kitchen fires?

A: Believe it or not, people (including men, women, and children) usually cause the fires to start, not electricity, appliances, or pets. Many fires are caused by what is called “unattended cooking,” which means that someone left food on the stove or in the microwave without watching it closely. Another type of kitchen fire is a “careless cooking fire,” which is caused by someone turning the heat up way too high.

Q: What can I do to prevent fires and keep myself and my family safe while cooking?

A: If you follow these tips from the Madison Fire Department, you can help stop kitchen fires before they even start!

  • Pay attention and be alert; don’t cook if you are too sleepy or distracted.
  • When cooking on the stove top, stay in the kitchen and watch the pot closely. Staying in the kitchen allows you to take quick action if the food begins to burn.
  • Set the stove on a lower heat setting. You can turn it up if you need to, but be careful not to turn it up too high and burn your food.
  • Use a timer to remind you when the food is finished cooking.
  • Keep a lid for the pot close by. If a small fire erupts in the pot or pan, cover it to extinguish it.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen in case a fire gets out of control. Only trained adults should use a fire extinguisher. Before you start cooking, make sure you know where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it.
  • Keep flammable items far away from the stove! This includes mitts, pot holders, dish towels, and paper. Take time to clear away the area around the stove before you start to cook.
  • Children should always be supervised by an adult while cooking. Keep younger children at least 3 feet away from the stove so they don’t accidentally reach for something or bump into something and get burned.
  • Don’t store anything inside the oven. You might forget to take it out of the oven before you turn it on, which could start a fire.