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Fire Prevention Week: Cooking Causes Most U.S. Home Fires

FRESNO— During Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14), the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter reminds everyone that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and issues safety steps to follow to help avoid one of these blazes.

“The top reason for cooking fires is someone leaving the stove unattended while cooking,” said Daniela Aguilar, Regional Prevention and Preparedness Manager, Red Cross Central California Region.


•Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries.**

• Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in your home.***

• Unattended cooking causes nearly 90 percent of all kitchen fires.**

• Cooking was the cause of 36% of all structure fires in 2002.**

• The number of home fires the American Red Cross has responded to has risen 10% since 2000.*

• Every two and a half hours someone is killed in a home fire. In a typical year, 20,000 people are injured in home fires.**

• Having a working smoke alarm reduces one’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.**

Sources: American Red Cross,* U.S. Fire Administration,** and the National Fire Protection Association.***

“Cooking brings family and friends together, but this normal, everyday activity can also lead to disaster,” continued Aguilar. “In fact, cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. To help keep your loved ones safe, it’s important to stay in the kitchen while you’re cooking.”


  • If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended — stay in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.
  • If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check it regularly.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area. Make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.
  • Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year if your smoke alarm requires it.
  • If you cannot afford to purchase smoke alarms or are physically unable to install one, the Red Cross may be able to help. Contact your local Red Cross for more information.

Download the Red Cross First Aid app for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. Find all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.


Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, working with community partners, has saved at least 1,928 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas across the country. To learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved, visit redcross.org/homefires.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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