Common Hazards

Fireman Delivering a Fire Tips BriefKitchens

The kitchen remains the number one room of origin for fires in residences within the nation. Most fires and risks can be avoided, rendering the kitchen a relatively safe place. 

Reduce the risks for kitchen fires and hazards by:

  • Stand by your stove, never leaving a cooking project at any time.
  • Keep a lid close by that can be used to cover a pan in case of a grease fire.
  • Cleaning up accumulated grease.
  • Know the location, type, and purpose of your fire extinguisher.
  • Examine your extinguisher for any signs of damage or tampering.
  • Know how to use your fire extinguishers.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in flames or appliances.
  • Keep pot and panhandles pointed toward the back of the range top.
  • Never leave a child alone when cooking, or when any electrical appliances are within reach.
  • Talk to children about safety precautions in simple, clear terms. Younger children need frequent reminders.
  • Never mix cooking with alcohol or medicines which can make you drowsy, and never start a cooking project when you are tired or sleepy.


  • Do not overload electrical sockets.
  • Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet, never using extension cords.
  • Check all appliances and extension cords for frayed or exposed wires. Open or damaged wires can start a fire.
  • Professionally clean and service heating systems and furnaces annually. Poor ventilation and old wiring can cause fires. Also, make sure your system has an emergency shut-off switch.
  • Do not leave space heaters near flammable materials such as upholstery and drapes. Do not add fuel to a portable heater that is still on or hot.
  • Unplug heat-producing appliances, such as toasters, space heaters, and irons, that are not in use. On/Off switches can fail, leaving the appliance on.
  • Use only appliances listed by Underwriter Laboratories (UL). They are tested for safety.

Space Heaters

  • Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or the heating element. This will help keep children, pets, and clothing away from the heat source.
  • When selecting a heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.
  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat. The wrong size heater could produce more pollutants and may not be an efficient use of energy.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. A good practice is to read aloud the instructions and warning labels to all members of the household to be certain that everyone understands how to operate the heater safely. Keep the owner’s manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Some heaters have very hot surfaces. Children should not be permitted to either adjust the controls or move the heater.
  • Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps to prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Even vented heaters require ventilation for proper combustion.
  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the area. For fuel-fired heaters, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could accumulate or uncontrolled burning could cause a fire.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids (such as gasoline) around a space heater. The flammable vapors can flow from one part of the room to another and be ignited by the open flame or by an electrical spark.
  • Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from objects such as bedding, furniture, and drapes. Never use heaters to dry clothes or shoes. Do not place heaters where towels or other objects could fall on the heater and start a fire.