Califonia Bountiful

Now from Nationwide: 7 ways you can prevent a kitchen fire

Nov./Dec. 2008 California Country magazine

Prevent a kitchen fire with these seven suggestions.

Given our culture’s obsession with multitasking, it can be hard for time-crunched families to focus on doing one thing at a time. So walking the dog while the ziti is heating up in the oven makes sense, right? Before you grab your house keys and Bailey’s leash on your way out the door, consider this: Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of house fires, according to Nationwide, whose family of companies includes Allied Insurance, Nationwide Insurance and Nationwide Agribusiness.

Cooking fires kill more than 3,000 people every year, injuring more than 13,000 and causing more than $5 billion in damages. Nationwide points to the unattended stove as the primary cause of kitchen fires. So why not hang out in your kitchen while you cook? Instead of running an errand away from home, tackle a task near the stove instead. Walking or driving off is not worth the risk.

Other suggestions offered by Nationwide to avoid a kitchen fire:

  1. Don’t set your groceries or anything on the stove. Although it may appear to be extra counter space, your stovetop should stay clear.
  2. Set a timer whenever you light a burner or the oven, in case you are distracted or forget.
  3. Keep kids and pets away from the stove and use back burners to keep pans from getting knocked into. When using front burners, turn handles inward.
  4. Keep your oven and stovetop clean. When grease and food residue build up, they can catch fire from the heating elements. Before preheating your oven, check inside to see if it needs to be wiped.
  5. Buy an ABC (multipurpose) dry chemical fire extinguisher and put it within grabbing distance of the stove. (In a pinch, use baking soda.) Install a smoke detector near the kitchen—it can reduce chances of dying in a fire by nearly half.
  6. Use the right size pot for what you’re making to avoid food boiling over. Use the appropriate size burner for your pan. And heat cooking oil slowly over moderate heat while you supervise.
  7. Never use the oven or stove range to heat your home. A gas oven can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, and a forgotten electric oven can overheat and cause a fire.

Find out what to do before, during and after a fire by visiting and clicking on “Fire.” You’ll also learn how to teach kids as young as 3 to follow a home escape plan.

John Valentine, CLU, CPCU, is director of sponsor relations for Nationwide Insurance. He can be reached at 800-552-2437 ext. 4393 or

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