Tackling the Cooker Clutter – Keep it Clean, Keep it Clear!

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Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have been campaigning to get Lancashire cooking more safely throughout 2018. The ‘Cook Safe’ campaign started in January 2018, addressing distractions whilst cooking and in late October launched phase 2 of the campaign, ‘Keep it Clean, Keep it Clear’. 

This campaign aimed to address ‘cooker clutter’ raising awareness of just how often fires in the home start with the accidental ignition of items that are stored on cooker hobs or in ovens.

Often, kitchen fires are breaking out because items are left or stored too close to heat sources such as hobs and ovens, which are then accidentally turned or left on. Keep it Clean, Keep it Clear aims to warn people about the hazards of cooker clutter and hopefully encourage people to clear the clutter all together.  

Of course, keeping cookers clean is also an important aspect of this campaign. It’s not uncommon for people to store grill pans and baking trays in ovens, but again if they get accidently left in when the oven is switched on it can increase the risk of fire. Particularly if they aren’t properly clean, as the build-up of grease and food residue can easily ignite.

Since Keep it Clean, Keep it Clear launched there have been 102 cooking related accidental house fires  across Lancashire (between October – December 1028). Of those, 22 incidents were where occupants had started cooking and left a pan on or food in the oven, 31 involved incidents where items were stored on or in cookers which had been accidentally turned on or left on, 10 involved microwaves which had been left on too long or were dirty and 19 involved dirty cookers. There were also several incidents reported where people had fallen asleep whilst cooking. 

Jane Williams, the Prevention and Protection Support Manager who is leading on the campaign said:

“There was one particular incident in Burnley which involved a cooker which had pans, boxes and towels stored on the back of the hob which had then been accidentally ignited by turning on the wrong dial on the cooker. There were variations of this instance at numerous cooking fires in that time period and so it clearly shows that this is happening far more frequently than perhaps people realise. 

Turning on the wrong cooker dial is so easily done, but many of these fires would be so easily prevented too if people  took heed of the  Keep it Clean, Keep it Clear’ message.

Although they are still the biggest cause of fire, the good news is, cooking fires have been steadily decreasing over the years. In 2017 there were 453 cooking related fires in the county, the majority of which were reported with distractions being the primary contributory factor, followed by items stored on or in cookers and accidentally turned/ left on and then microwaves. In 2018, we want to see this number reduce further still.”

You can help reduce accidental cooking fires in the home, by keeping to the task at hand. It’s so easy to get distracted or accidentally turn on the wrong cooker dial. Food residue and grease can easily ignite, so try to keep on top of your cooker cleaning and if you know someone who perhaps needs a nudge or reminder to do the same then spread the word, you could save them from having a fire.

 For further advice and guidance on fire safety in the home, including on cooking safety, you can visit: www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/cooking.