It’s Fire Prevention Week: Get your safety tips from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs

kitchen cooking

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The Virginia Department of Fire Programs State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Virginians to keep safety at the forefront while cooking and using appliances in the kitchen.

As we spend more time in our residences, the chances of fire-related accidents and injuries increases.

“There have been 29 civilian fire fatalities in Virginia as of September 30. Of those fire fatalities, roughly 3% were caused by cooking. 48% occurred in single-family homes. While the percentage of cooking-related fires in Virginia is low at this point, it doesn’t mean that we can rest easy,” said Virginia State Fire Marshal Garrett Dyer. “We often think of the stove and the safety around that appliance, but smaller appliances such as deep fryers and microwaves can start fires that are equally as destructive.”

According to the U.S. Home Cooking Fires Report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking caused an average of 172,900 reported home structure fires per year (49 percent of all reported home fires in the US). These fires resulted in an average of 550 civilian deaths (21 percent of all home fire deaths) and 4,820 civilian injuries (44 percent of all reported home fire injuries) annually.

Victims of Cooking Fires

In the report, it is noted that high-risk populations include those 55 years of age and older. In Virginia, 24% of the total reported civilian fire fatalities victims were between 56-80 years old.

Dyer continued, “The statistic translates to one out of four Virginians over the age of 55 are at a higher risk of a fire-related casualty or injury. Check on your neighbors that fit this category, bring them a meal from time to time. Make sure the meal is prepared using safe cooking practices. And, don’t forget to wear your mask as you enter their homes.”

People ages 25-44 are the leading age group to suffer from cooking fire injuries in U.S. homes nationwide.

Cooking Safety Tips

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove. Leaving food unattended is the leading factor in cooking fires and related casualties.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

“We hope that the message resonates before we head into the holiday season in a few weeks,” said Dyer.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the leading days for cooking fires in the home.

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs provides training, support services, and resources to more than 700 fire and emergency service organizations, and approximately 44,000 fire service personnel in the Commonwealth. Support areas include funding, training and professional development, research, operational support, technical assistance, and fire prevention inspections through its State Fire Marshal’s Office.


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