NPGA Bobtail

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Quantifiable Hazard of Cooking

With so much recent focus by the government and media on cooktop hazards, let’s take a moment to reflect on a real, quantifiable, danger in the kitchen.  I’m talking about fires.

Did you know that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) conducted an in-depth study on the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, namely kitchen fires.  Published in 2020, NFPA looked at a 5-year stretch of fires in America and found that cooking caused an average of 172,900 reported home fires per year.  These kitchen fires resulted in 4,820 injuries and 550 deaths per year.

Results of the study include that cooking oil, fat, grease and related substances account for a majority of kitchen fires, injuries, and deaths.  And an unattended appliance was the leading factor contributing to a kitchen fire.

The study also delved deep into equipment involved in kitchen fires.  Ranges and cooktops were involved in 61% of reported cooking fires, 78% of injuries, and 87% of deaths.  Ovens and microwaves showed much lower rates.  A key finding was that electric ranges are more hazardous than gas ranges.  As per the NFPA study:

Although 60% of households cook with electricity, 4 out of 5 (80%) ranges or cooktops involved in reported cooking fires were powered by electricity.

  • The rate of cooking fires is 2.6 times higher with electric ranges than gas ranges.
  • The rate of injury by fire is 4.8 times higher with electric ranges than gas ranges.
  • The rate of death by fire is 3.4 times higher with electric ranges than gas ranges.
  • The average dollar loss was 3.8 times higher in households with electric ranges.

If you or a loved one have an electric cooking appliance, please be careful!