Chip Pans & Cooking
Food preparation and cooking are a fundamental activity
of life and happen at least once a day in almost every dwelling.
Cooking means heat, from a variety of sources and types of
equipment, so it is not surprising that it leads to a large
number of problems and accidents.
- 64% of fires reported to Fire & Rescue Services each
year take place in, or start in, the kitchen.
- Of 50,000 accidental fires in dwellings in 2003, cooking
activities caused 57%.
- These fires caused 66 deaths in 2003 - and accounted for
17% of all accidental fire related injuries.
- Kitchen fires also account for two-thirds of unreported fires.
- In 1995 an estimates total of 748,000 fires, with 485,000
resulting from cooking activities. The report mentions that
26% of all fires were caused by fat or oil catching fire and
16% by grill pans.
- It also says that households with several occupants, especially
households with children, have more fires - not only because
more cooking is done, but because adults are more likely to
be distracted when cooking.
The British Crime Survey (BCS) also gives information
on fire risks related to socio-economic groups, using the ACORN
system, which classifies households by area and representative
population. This is not specifically about cooking fires, but
it does show that the highest risk groups are multi-ethnic, low-income
areas (ACORN group 17) and council estates with the worst hardship
(group 16). Figures from the USA, although they use different
social classifications, show that cooking-related fires are lower
in households with incomes above the national median (average),
but that the level of fire risk is not significantly different
no matter what the level of education of the head of the household.
Many unreported fires were minor. More than half were said to
have caused no real financial loss, and only one in fifty caused
damage of £1,000 or more.
The BCS does not report on injuries, but the Department of Trade
and Industry's Home Accident Surveillance System (HASS) does.
It reports on all types of injuries that result in visits to
hospital casualty departments. For 1998, it suggests a figure
of around 36,000 thermal injuries (burns and scalds) in kitchens.
As a priority for community fire safety, the
potential for information and education to reduce fires,
deaths and injuries from accidents in the kitchen, and
from cooking in particular, is very high.
The potential impact of prevention work
In April 1998, a pilot of the national chip pan fire safety
campaign was run in Merseyside. The TV advert was broadcast on
Granada TV and the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service co-ordinated
various activities throughout the region.