NFPA's Take: A Recipe for Fire Safety

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires with one out of three home fires starting in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home.

  • Did you know that ranges account for the largest share of home cooking fire incidents? Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
  • Unattended cooking equipment is the leading factor contributing to home cooking fires, deaths, injuries and direct property damage.
  • Three-fifths of reported home cooking fire injuries occur when victims try to fight the fire themselves.
  • 83 percent of frying fires begin in the first 15 minutes of cooking.

Cooking fires is not an issue to be taken lightly. NFPA's latest community tool kit "A Recipe for Keeping Your Community Cooking Safely" is ready to help you reach out to residents in your community. The kit has been mailed to every fire department and includes safety materials, videos, a PowerPoint presentation and a PSA easily accessed on the CD using your computer. You'll find press releases on cooking safety and op/eds on burn prevention, grilling, microwaves, and turkey fryers. Letters to the editor will have you ready to respond with media outreach if there is a cooking fire in your community. Other resources on the CD include cooking statistics, a cooking safety checklist and talking points, and a "Heating Fire Safety Tips" flyer in English and Spanish.

The toolkit brings NFPA's research reports on "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" and the U.S. Fire Administration's "Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires" right to your fingertips. As part of the U.S. Fire Administration's Cooking Mitigation Project, five short videos were created to present important cooking safety information to residents. These videos have been included on the CD and ready to be used in your community.

Dan Doofus, NFPA's new cartoon character, is featured in our latest public service announcement (PSA) reinforcing the importance of keeping things that can burn away from the stove and staying in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop. This PSA can be shown on local cable stations, stores or as part of a presentation.

We've thought of ideas to make cooking safety a community event:

  • Hold an open house with a kitchen demonstration to explain how to prevent cooking-related fires and what to do if one occurs.
  • Provide safety information at a grocery store, restaurant or appliance store.
  • Have a firehouse neighborhood barbecue and teach residents about grilling safety.
  • Bring firefighters together with community members to offer recipes and cooking safety tips in a cookbook or newsletter for residents.
  • Visit a senior center and cook up some safety tips.

Put on your chef's hat and think of ideas to reach out to your community.

"A Recipe for Keeping Your Community Cooking Safely" is the third in our series of kits that have been mailed to fire departments over the past year. While our mailings may not always make it into the hands of the right person in the fire department, all the toolkits including heating, electrical safety and disaster preparation are just a click away on NFPA's website.

We'll be adding to our library of toolkits with, "More Ways to Keep Your Community Safe and Warm" mailed to fire departments in November. As part of our toolkit we will be asking for your feedback. Are the kits meeting your needs in the community? Do you want to continue to receive our community tool kits? The "More Ways to Keep Your Community Safe and Warm" kit will include a link to an on-line survey we will ask you to complete to help us continue to be your source for safety information. Be on the lookout for "More Ways to Keep Your Community Safe and Warm" which will be mailed to the fire chief of your department.

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JUDY COMOLETTI is the manger of public education at the non-profit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and she is responsible for implementing NFPA's revised public education strategic plan implemented in 2008. The plan refocuses NFPA's efforts to position NFPA as the primary source of fire and other hazard information to reduce residential fire deaths, injury, and property loss. High-risk outreach activities reaching the very old, very young, urban and rural poor, and people with disabilities are an integral part of NFPA's public education efforts. She is a media spokesperson on educational issues and represents the association at educational symposia, conferences and other professional gatherings. She is an internationally recognized expert in fire and life safety education responsible for training educators, fire service personnel and other advocates to assist them in implementing NFPA educational programs.

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