Don’t Let Your Holidays Go Up in Flames

Nov 23, 2020

According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance

  • there are approximately 24,000 house fires every year in Canada, leading to an average of 377 fatalities and more than 3,000 injuries annually.
  • Fires are most likely to start in the kitchen, bedrooms and living room.
  • In fatal, preventable house fires, more than one-third of homes didn’t have a working smoke detector.

Click here for more details on smoke alarms, testing frequency and the type of alarms that are available.

For many Canadians, cooking is a stress-relieving hobby. For others, it’s a chore. But no matter how you view the task, cooking also brings risk: it is a leading cause of residential fires across Canada.

National Home Fire Safety Week is November 24 – 30 and this year, the Canada Safety Council wants to remind you to practice caution in the kitchen.

With so many Canadians still spending large amounts of time at home during the global pandemic, there’s necessarily an increase in the amount of time we’re spending in our kitchens cooking. And unfortunately, the data bears out the increased fire risk. According to Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, there has been an increase of more than 300 per cent in “cooking or smoking related fires claims compared to last year.”

“It can’t be overstated how quickly fire can catch and spread,” said Gareth Jones, President and CEO of the Canada Safety Council. “A moment of inattention in the kitchen can be all it takes for an unattended pot to catch fire. The threat to you and your family’s lives — to say nothing of the potential damage to property and stress that may be brought on — is simply not a risk that needs to be taken.”

Grease fires are a frequent source of residential kitchen fires, often made worse by improper mitigation efforts. NEVER use water on a grease fire. This may cause the grease to spread and make the fire worse than it might’ve otherwise been. Instead, if a grease fire occurs, you should smother the fire by covering it with a lid or another pan. Be sure to also turn off the heat, but do not remove the pot or pan from the stove.

Some other tips to avoid kitchen fires include:

  • Avoid loose-fitting clothing when cooking. It can more easily catch fire than tight-fitting clothing.
  • Items that can catch fire should be kept away from heat sources. This includes dishcloths, pot holders and paper towels. Keep them a safe distance away from the stove.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you’re cooking. Keeping a close watch on food in the oven and on the stove will enable you to react more quickly if fire catches.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and familiarize yourself with how to use it. See our 2019 National Fire Safety Week campaign for more information.
  • Regular maintenance and cleaning are critical — dried food or grease buildup can contribute to fires and burns.

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For more information, please contact:
Lewis Smith
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council
lewis.smith@safety-council.org