7 Fire Hazards Hiding in Your Kitchen Right Now

published Aug 13, 2023
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Food burning in pan on stove - kitchen fire
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Your kitchen is one of the most important, central places in your home, and because of that, it’s essential to make sure it’s a safe place to be. Certain cooking habits — or neglected chores — can increase the risk of a fire in your kitchen (and ultimately your entire home). Taking the steps to ensure safety in your kitchen will only take a little bit of extra time and effort, but it can go a long way in preventing the risk of a fire.

To learn how to prevent fires in my (and your) home, I talked to an expert about unexpected fire hazards that you probably have in your kitchen right now — and how to keep your family safe from them.

1. Grease Buildup

A dirty kitchen isn’t just unsightly — accumulated grease on stovetops, range hoods, and cooking surfaces can ignite and make a fire spread faster, says Edmund Augustin, an appliance maintenance and repair technician at Fantastic Services. Make a habit of degreasing (dish soap works like a charm!) anytime you clean your kitchen. 

2. Dish Towels

Flammable materials, such as dish towels, paper towels, and oven mitts, can easily catch fire if you keep them too close to the stove or any other heat source. To minimize the risk, Augustin recommends keeping these items away from the stove and oven. (Yet another great reason to declutter!)

3. Your Microwave

Your microwave can be a significant fire risk in your kitchen, according to Augustin. Always avoid using aluminum foil or any metal in your microwave, including twist ties. Clean your microwave regularly, too, to make sure charred bits of stray food don’t catch fire.

4. Dust

Dust and other tiny particles can quickly accumulate around the electrical components of kitchen appliances — such as your toaster, coffee maker, and fridge — which increases the risk of electrical fires. “Regularly clean behind and underneath these appliances to remove dust and debris and unplug them beforehand to avoid electrical fires,” suggests Augustin. 

5. Too Many Electrical Appliances

Overloaded electrical outlets can easily cause an electrical fire in the kitchen. That’s why Augustin cautions against plugging in too many devices at the same time. (If needed, use a power strip with a surge protector.) Besides that, inspect electrical cords regularly for damage, and replace anything that looks frayed ASAP. When a countertop appliance is not in use, it’s always safest to unplug it.

6. Malfunctioning Appliances

Appliances that aren’t functioning correctly or have damaged components can pose a huge fire risk, so Augustin recommends scheduling regular maintenance checks. If you notice anything’s not working right or produces a strange smell when in use, stop using it immediately and have it inspected by a qualified repair technician. 

7. Unattended Cooking

Leaving cooking appliances, such as stoves and ovens, unattended while you’re using them can lead to kitchen fires. Even only a momentary distraction can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation. As a safety practice, always stay in the kitchen when cooking. If you need to leave, even for a short while, turn off the stove or oven. “If you must step away, take a kitchen timer or phone with you as a reminder to return to the kitchen on time,” Augustin says.