During the February half term this week, many children across Herefordshire and Worcestershire may be spending more time in the kitchen than during schooldays. Especially when the inclement weather might be keeping people indoors.

But whether they’re lending a hand or simply seeking a snack, it’s important to make sure everyone knows the hazards of a hot hob.

In the ten year period from 1 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2021 in the two counties, 2,377 fires started in the kitchen and there were sadly five fatalities.

This included seven kitchen fires on Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) over the ten year period. There were 17 incidents where the victim went to hospital with serious injuries, nearly 100 incidents in which the victim went to hospital with slight injuries, 125 incidents where first aid was given at scene and over 60 incidents in which a precautionary check was recommended.

The top three sources of ignition were: cooker, grill/toaster and ring/hot plate (separate appliance) The Worcester area saw the most incidents, at 18% (438), followed by Redditch, with 13% (325) and Hereford with 12% (280).

So as part of the national fire safety campaign, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging parents and carers to make any kitchen activities a chance for youngsters to learn about cooking safety.

Emma Roberts, HWFRS Head of Prevention, said: “There are scores of creative ways to teach children about cooking fire safety. And it’s absolutely vital that they know what to do if the worst should happen.

“So, alongside the melting, mixing and making, why not take the chance to pass on your fire safety knowhow? Don’t’ forget to test your smoke alarms as part of the activity.

“And remember, never leave a child alone with a hot hob, and help keep them safe by moving matches and saucepan handles out of their reach.”

And the youngsters don’t have to be in the kitchen to encourage you to change the way you work – distraction while cooking is a main cause of fire call-outs right across the country.

Emma continued: “Half of all accidental fires in the home start in the kitchen - often because of distractions like phone calls or family. So, whatever happens elsewhere in your home, always make sure you have one eye on the hob or oven.”

Fire Kills’ top tips for staying safe in the kitchen are:

  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen while cooking.
  • Take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.
  • If a pan catches fire, don’t take any risks – immediately Get Out, Stay Out, and Call 999.
  • Double check the hob and oven is off when you’ve finished cooking.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
  • Avoid leaving children alone in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
  • Take care with electrics - keep leads and appliances away from water, and place grills and toasters away from curtains and kitchen rolls.
  • Keep your equipment clean and in good working order - a build-up of fat and grease can ignite a fire.
  • Don’t cook while, or after, drinking alcohol – they don’t mix!
  • Hot oil can catch fire easily - be careful that it doesn’t overheat.
  • Never throw water on a chip pan fire.
  • In the event of a fire, have an escape plan in place.
  • Don’t take risks by tackling a fire. Get out, Stay out and Call 999.
  • Make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them weekly.