Cooking Safety

Cooking is the number one cause of fires and burn injuries in the United States. The majority of cooking fires start when cooking food is left unattended. Burn injuries are often worsened or caused by home residents or food service workers attempting to extinguish a fire. Following safety practices while cooking can help prevent burn injuries and fires.

Cooking Safety at Home

Home cooking should only be done by individuals that are aware and well rested. Cooking while intoxicated or tired is dangerous. Reaction times may be slowed or individuals may become distracted. When frying, grilling, or broiling, individuals should be present in the kitchen at all times. When roasting or baking, the food should be checked regularly and timers should be set as a reminder. All flammable materials and substances should be kept away from flames and hot surfaces.

Home Fire Prevention

Certain steps can be taken to prevent cooking fires from spreading. Since fires need oxygen to grow and spread, keeping a lid close while sautéing or frying is helpful for extinguishing flames in a pan. Closing an oven and turning off the heat can help to prevent oven fires from spreading. Adding food to oil slowly and monitoring the oil temperature can help prevent dangerous oil splashes from occurring and starting fires. If it is not possible to prevent a fire from spreading, individuals should exit the home immediately to avoid being burned and call emergency services for aid.

Home Burn Prevention

To prevent burns while cooking at home, individuals should utilize pot holders and exercise caution when removing items from a hot oven, microwave, or stove top. Home cooks should wear clothing that is tight fitting or short sleeved to avoid burn injuries from loose clothing catching fire or immersing in hot liquid. Metal should never be put into a microwave. Electrical appliances should be unplugged when not in use.

Food Service Cooking Safety

About 12,000 food service workers suffer burn injuries each year. A majority of these injuries are suffered by young and inexperienced workers as a result of rushing to keep up with business demands. Workplace or worker negligence regarding safety rules is also involved in many burn injury cases.
Food Service Burn Injury Prevention

Food service workers can avoid burn injuries by taking precautionary steps such as:

  • Wearing oven mitts when handling hot pots and pans
  • Covering pan fires with a lid
  • Never moving a hot or burning pan from a cooking surface
  • Wearing non-skid shoes to avoid sliding into hot surfaces
  • Properly using electrical appliances
  • Never reaching across hot cooking surfaces