How many kitchen fires happen each year?

6 minute read

Saucepan on a lit gas kitchen stove

No one wants to see their home damaged by fire or smoke, and while there are precautions that could be put in place to reduce the damage and risk of casualties, such as smoke alarms, fire blankets, and fire extinguishers - accidents can still happen.

Below, you can find out more about where and how fires are most likely to start, as well as what you can do to prevent them.

How many kitchen fires occur each year?

Between January 2022 and December 2022, there were approximately 183,209 fires that had to be dealt with in the UK. This is the total number of both accidental and deliberate fires in buildings of any kind. This number reduces to approximately 26,979 for accidental fires that occurred in only dwelling properties, such as homes. 

What’s interesting about the data provided by the Home Office is that the biggest cause of accidental dwelling fires is home appliances. According to the data for 2021/22, the leading cause of fires at home was the misuse of appliances, which was responsible for 7,510 fires in the UK, while faulty appliances came in second and caused 3,693 incidents. 

The UK also still has a taste for fried food, as chip/fat pan fires accounted for 1,369 fires last year.

But while the thought of a fire is scary, this data can be used to try and prevent an outbreak in your own home. Read on to find out more about preventing fires in a kitchen.

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How do kitchen fires start?

All sorts of appliances are used in the kitchen to cook our food, from ovens to microwaves, slow cookers to deep-fat fryers. With all this heat and occasionally open flames, it’s unsurprising that the kitchen is the most common place for a house fire to start.

Cooking substances, such as oil and fat, can catch fire quite easily, particularly when used in a frying pan on a gas hob, for example. This is why it’s important to make sure that you never leave cooking unattended and that you clean your kitchen regularly, particularly areas where fat can splatter such as the hob, tiles, and inside the oven/grill.

Fires can start in microwaves, too, if there's something metallic inside when you turn it on, such as packaging or cutlery. Always check the cookware and item instructions to see if it's suitable for microwaving. You should never turn a microwave on with any metal cutlery or tin foil inside.

Alongside microwaves, there are plenty of other electrical appliances that we use in the kitchen, including kettles, toasters, coffee machines, and more. If you overload plug sockets, these can become a fire risk too, so avoid using extension leads in the kitchen.

 

Can an electric hob catch fire?

Electric hobs rarely catch fire of their own accord. It is more common for a fire to start when something if something is left on or near the hob, such as a kitchen roll or a tea towel. In this scenario, even if the electric hob is turned off but not yet cooled down, the residual heat can cause the item to ignite. To avoid this, always make sure you keep flammable items away from the stovetop, both during cooking and after. 

 

How to avoid fires in the kitchen

There may be some things you can do to prevent the likelihood of a fire breaking out in your home, and particularly in your kitchen. However, it’s still important that you have home insurance so that, should a fire ignite, your home and belongings will be covered and could be replaced if needed.

 

Never leave food unattended

The main rule when cooking in the kitchen is to never leave food unattended. To prevent fires from starting in this way, and to ensure you can put them out as quickly as possible, you should always keep an eye on the food that’s cooking in or on any appliance, including the microwave, oven, grill or the hob.

 

Keep your appliances clean

Clean appliances are less likely to cause a fire. This is because fat and grease are highly flammable, so you should be sure to clean the hob and surrounding area after you’ve used it. This is particularly the case for the grill pan. Many people often forget to clean the microwave, particularly when food splatters, so be sure to do this every so often too.

 

Service your tumble dryer

In the UK, it’s quite common to have your washing machine and tumble dryer located in the kitchen, but there are instances of machines catching fire. The biggest cause of tumble dryer fires is a build-up of fluff. You should regularly empty the filter in the dryer and remove the fluff to prevent a fire from starting. It may also be a good idea to check for fire warnings or product recalls and if you think your model is unsafe, invest in a new one. Having the machines serviced every year could be advantageous too.

 

Make sure your home has fire safety equipment

There are a few items you can purchase to both reduce the risk of fires starting and help fight them should they occur. It is highly recommended that you have working smoke alarms throughout the house and that you test these regularly to make sure they're in good working order. Alongside this, you might also consider investing in some firefighting equipment, such as an extinguisher or fire blanket. If you opt for an extinguisher, make sure you pay close attention to the product description, so you know what fire it is designed to fight. 

 

The thought of a house fire can be scary, but by following just some of the advice provided above, you could reduce the risk of a fire and help to keep your family and home safe. For more information on how kitchen fires start, the London Fire Brigade has an especially useful article that looks at fire prevention in the kitchen.

 

*All data has been taken from the government website. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/fire-statistics-data-tables

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