Avoid half-term horror by following cooking fire safety tips

Child reaching for pan on the hob.

Many children across Herefordshire and Worcestershire will spend more time in the kitchen during February half-term.

But, whether they’re lending a hand or simply seeking a snack, it’s important to make sure that they know the hazards of a hot hob.

As part of the Fire Kills campaign, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is encouraging parents and carers to make any kitchen activities a chance for youngsters to learn about cooking safety.

Between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2022 in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, there were 2,036 kitchen fires with 296 injuries and sadly three fatalities.

There were 14 incidents where the victim went to hospital with serious injuries and 104 with slight injuries, 131 where first aid was given at the scene and 70 where a precautionary check was recommended.

The most likely sources of ignition were the cooker/oven with 1,106 fires, the grill/toaster with 233 and the ring/hot plate on a separate appliance with 194.

Worcester station area had the most incidents with 417 (18.01 per cent) followed by Redditch with 301 (13 per cent) and Hereford with 262 (11.31 per cent).

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said: “There are lots of creative ways to teach kids about cooking fire safety. And it’s absolutely vital that they know what to do if the worst should happen.

“So, alongside the melting, mixing and making, why not take the chance to pass on your fire safety knowhow?

“Test your smoke alarms as part of the activity. And, remember, never leave a child alone with a hot hob and help keep them safe by moving matches and saucepan handles out of their reach.”

And children don’t have to be in the kitchen to change the way you work – distraction while cooking is a main cause of fire call-outs right across the country.

Emma continued: “Half of all accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen – often because of distractions like phone calls or family.

“So, whatever happens elsewhere in your home, always make sure you have one eye on the hob or oven.”

Fire Kills’ top tips for staying safe in the kitchen are:

  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking. Take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.
  • If a pan catches fire, don’t take any risks – Get Out, Stay Out and Call 999.
  • Double check the hob and oven are off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking. Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
  • Take care with electrics – keep
    leads and appliances away from water and place grills and toasters away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
  • Keep your equipment clean and in good working order. A build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
  • Don’t cook after drinking alcohol.
  • Hot oil can catch fire easily – be careful that it doesn’t overheat.
  • Never throw water on a chip pan fire.
  • In the event of a fire, have an escape plan in place.
  • Don’t take risks by tackling a fire. Get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them weekly.

Anyone who thinks they might qualify for a free Home Fire Safety visit can call the HWFRS Prevention team on 0800 032 1155.

People can complete a free online Home Fire Safety check at www.safelincs.co.uk/hfsc/.