Even novice cooks should be experts at what to do if a fire breaks out in the kitchen.

By Mike Pomranz
July 10, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced lots of people to spend more time at home—which, in turn, changes our habits. Two potential changes: One, you may be cooking more meals yourself, and two, you may be spending more time staring at the news. If the latter is true, you may have seen stories about lockdowns leading to more house fires. And if the former is true, you may have been unlucky enough to cause one of these fires yourself.

In a deeper dive, The Takeout found reports from at least nine local news sources across the U.S. and Canada proclaiming that kitchen fires were on the rise due to the coronavirus, and though directly tying the pandemic to more fires is tricky statistical business for a number of reasons (such as the time lapse necessary to collect data and conduct further analyses), the correlation sounds pretty strong. “We have also heard anecdotal reporting about spikes in home fires in some states,” Susan McKelvey of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) told the site.

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The issue is also reportedly tied to more than people just cooking more meals at home. Importantly, more novice cooks may be trying their hand at cooking out of necessity, boredom, or both, which can cause more mistakes. And speaking of boredom, people may also be trying new cooking techniques they’re less familiar with.

Plus, even experienced cooks may be juggling more than before (work and kids anyone?) while handling home chef duties which can lead to distracted mistakes—like even abandoning a stove entirely. The Takeout cites a Red Cross survey that 70 percent of people admit to having left cooking unattended before COVID-19 started pulling our minds in a million directions.

However, as Greta Gustafson of the American Red Cross was quoted as saying, “The good news is that kitchen fires can be prevented.”

Yes, our pandemic-stricken lives may potentially be leading to more kitchen fires, but being aware of that fact is a great first preventative measure. Then, from there, a kitchen fire is still a kitchen fire, and your reaction should essentially be the same. Here’s our five step plan for what to do if there’s a fire in your kitchen.