RBFRS Urges Residents to ‘Watch What You Heat’

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is urging residents not to leave cooking unattended and take sensible steps to reduce the risk of an accidental fire breaking out in their homes.

The warning forms part of RBFRS’ Prevention campaign for July, which focuses on the importance of fire safety when cooking in the kitchen.

In the past year RBFRS has attended over 160 cooking-related incidents*, which resulted in eight people being hospitalised (either with slight or serious injuries)**.

Cooking fires are often caused by people getting distracted, for example by taking a phone call or answering the door. With the school holidays about to begin, it is especially important that children are taught the importance of fire safety and do not themselves become a distraction to parents and carers in the kitchen.

In the event that a fire does break out, having working smoke alarms and an emergency escape plan could be crucial.

Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention, said: “We regularly attend incidents caused by someone getting distracted when cooking, and the national statistics also highlight the real risk posed by distractions in the kitchen.

“Whatever is going on elsewhere in the house, always make sure you keep a close eye on the hob or the oven. Cooking fires can start incredibly quickly and can cause substantial damage to your property – or worse still, you or your loved ones.”

Follow the following tips to help prevent a fire breaking out in your kitchen:

  • 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.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • 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 if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk. 
Take care with electrics
  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from curtains and kitchen rolls.

Deep fat frying

  • 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. 

What to do if a pan catches fire:

  • Don’t take any risks. Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so. Never throw water over it.
  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself – Get Out, Stay Out, Call 999.  
* Cooking-related incidents include the following causes: negligent use, faulty equipment, accumulation of food and/or oil, and other items too close to heat source.

** People taken to hospital with either slight or serious injuries (none were given first aid at scene or precautionary checks).