Cooking safety

Kitchen fires are the number one cause of house fires, and cooking is the number one cause of kitchen fires. We all have to cook, so here are a few easy pointers to help you be a culinary creative without injury or incident.

Keep looking when you’re cooking

Never leave the room if you’ve got something on the stove, especially when you’re frying food. Oil and fat can over-heat very quickly and you’ve suddenly got a kitchen fire on your hands. If that happens, use a pot lid (not a glass one) or oven tray to snuff the fire out – don’t throw on water or attempt to carry the fiery pot outside.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy

Get yourself a wall-mounted, quality-approved fire extinguisher. Make sure you can reach it easily but your kids can’t.

See Fire extinguishers.

Don’t cook if you've been drinking

Alcohol and cooking do not mix – full stop.

Keep anything that could burn away from the stove

That includes: curtains, tea towels, handy towels, and any loose clothing you might be wearing. If you do catch fire, remember to stop, drop, roll and cool.

Pot handles and hot dishes

Turn these toward the back of the stove so children can’t pull them down. Likewise, put pans, hot drinks and trays just out of the oven well back from the edge of the bench.

Use oven mitts to handle hot pots or dishes

And make sure they’re not wet because water conducts heat very quickly.

See Stoves and cooking.

Knives and sharp things

Always pay attention when cutting with knives or other sharp utensils, and keep your knives sharp so they’re less likely to slip and cut you. Keep knives in a block or on a magnetised strip, not in a drawer. Use a cutting board and always cut away from yourself.


Food cooked in a microwave can be dangerously hot. Be careful to avoid steam burns when removing covers and always heat-test microwaved food before giving it to children.

Watch out for steam

Unfortunately, steam is invisible when it is at it’s hottest, so be very careful when reaching across the stove or lifting pot lids. For this reason, don’t store any food or utensils behind the stove.

Hot water

Get your hot water checked by a registered plumber to ensure it’s at the right temperature. It should be 55 degrees Celsius at the tap and 60 degrees Celsius in the cylinder.

See How hot is too hot?

Emergency numbers

Put up a list of emergency numbers where you can see them easily and keep a well-stocked first aid kit at hand – just in case!

Last updated: 30 May 2011

Last reviewed: 23 January 2014