Warning as firefighters attend up to FIVE cooking fires a week in South Wales during COVID-19

Warning as firefighters attend up to FIVE cooking fires a week in South Wales during COVID-19

Concerns have been raised with more people at home during the pandemic, there is a higher chance of becoming distracted at home whilst cooking.

Latest figures have revealed fires starting in the kitchen are at their highest level in South Wales for the past three years, with cooking being the biggest cause of accidental fires in the home. During the lockdown restrictions between April and May almost half of house fires have been caused by cooking. There has also been a significant increase in fires caused by chip pans and deep fat fryers with some incidents causing tragic consequences.

Many of us have adapted during the lockdown restrictions either working from home or home-schooling, with an increase in multitasking there is higher chance of becoming distracted whilst cooking.

To help prevent a fire within your home, we’re urging people to please stay alert and avoid leaving the room while cooking. If you do leave the room, please turn the stove off and keep the stove top area clear.

Head of Community Safety Dean Loader said: “We’re appealing to the public at this difficult time to take extra care, and keep basic fire safety in mind to help avoid fires within the home and reduce the demand on our firefighters. Some of the recent incidents we have attended have been completely avoidable. Across Wales, over 40% of all fires in the home start in the kitchen – showing just how easy preparing a meal can turn to disaster. With more people spending more time cooking at home, this number could rise even higher. Just one distraction really turn into a tragedy – it sounds obvious but getting distracted is one of the main causes of a kitchen fire, whether it’s a distraction from our children or simply using a mobile phone or tablet. Time and time again we attend house fires which have started in the kitchen – it is so easy to forget your cooking, especially if you are tired, distracted or have been drinking. However, the consequences can be devastating.”

Top tips for keep safe in the kitchen:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it regularly. View our guide on beeping smoke alarms here.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Don’t leave children alone in the kitchen when cooking. Make sure you keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach.
  • Make sure saucepan handles do not stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
  • Keep tea towels, cloths and clothing away from the cooker and hob, away from heat and flames.
  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.
  • Where possible, use spark devices instead of matches or lighters to light gas cookers, to avoid the naked flame.
  • Hot oil can ignite easily, use a thermostat-controlled deep fat fryer – they stop the fat getting too hot.
  • Don’t fill a chip pan or other deep fat fryer more than one third full of oil.
  • Never tackle a pan fire yourself. If a pan catches fire, never use water on it.
  • Avoid cooking if you have been drinking alcohol or are taking medication that may make you drowsy or tired.
  • Double check the cooker is off when you have finished cooking. Take care with electrics.
  • Keep the oven, hob and grill clean and in good working order. A build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
  • In the event of a fire in your kitchen, get out, stay out and call 999.

Download a copy of our Safe and Well booklet here, or for more information on cooking safety visit.