In the kitchen

Did you know that one in four house fires start in the kitchen?

Making your kitchen fire safe is a really important part of having a fire safe home. Here are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of a fire starting in the kitchen:

When you’re cooking

  • Don't drink and fry. Alcohol is involved in half of all fatal fires. Instead, pre-prepare a meal, get takeaways, or use the microwave. Never attempt to drink alcohol or take medication that makes you sleepy when cooking.
  • Don’t leave the room when cooking. If you have to, always turn off the stove first. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of house fires in New Zealand.
  • Keep curtains, tea towels, oven mitts and any flammable items well away from the cooking area when you're cooking.

Keeping a clean and safe kitchen

  • Clean your stovetop after each use. This prevents spilled fats and burnt foods from building up.
  • Clean rangehood filters regularly.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher and a fire blanket somewhere in your kitchen. Make sure you know how to use them.

Smoke alarms

Don't install a smoke alarm in your kitchen. Smoke and heat from cooking (and the toaster) can activate the alarm. Smoke alarms shouldn't be installed in the bathroom or laundry either.

You can still protect these areas with a heat alarm. A heat alarm is designed to activate when the room reaches a set temperature. They are useful in places where a smoke alarm would usually give false alarms.

For more information, take a look at our smoke alarm guide.

If a fire starts

  • If your frypan is on fire, place the lid of the frypan, a wet tea towel, or another large flat object (like a chopping board) over the pan to starve the fire of oxygen.
  • Never throw water onto a frypan that's on fire.
  • Never, ever attempt to carry a burning frypan outside.
  • If you have a fire in your oven, try to turn off the power or gas, either at the stove or at the mains.

Preventing scalds

Another big danger in the kitchen is scalds — burns caused by boiling water. Here are some tips for preventing scalds:

  • Keep kids out of the kitchen or cooking areas when you're cooking or preparing meals.
  • Keep kettles, jugs and teapots away from the edge of benches and tables.
  • Turn saucepan handles so they're not sticking out over the floor. Use the elements or hot plates at the back of the stove if possible.
  • Make sure all upright stoves are securely fastened to the wall and keep oven doors closed, except when grilling as per manufacturers instructions.
  • For advice on treating scalds and burns, visit the St John website

Want to make sure your home is fire safe? Use our fire safety checklist to find anything that might be putting you at risk.