Cooking continues to be the leading cause of residential fires, with almost a third of all building fires in Finland starting from cooking. According to the Finnish National Rescue Association, approximately 900 fires per year are caused by cooking. To raise awareness and prevent such fires, the association has released a guide to safe stove use, detailing the hazards of the kitchen and how to avoid them.

According to international statistics, cooking fires are a common occurrence worldwide. In the United States, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and fire-related injuries, with over 173,000 fires reported in 2018 alone, resulting in 550 deaths and 4,820 injuries. In the United Kingdom, cooking is the most common cause of household fires, accounting for over 50% of all reported fires.

The Finnish National Rescue Association's guide highlights the dangers of leaving food unattended while cooking and storing non-cooking items on or near the stove. Items such as coffee makers, microwave lids, and cutting boards should not be placed on the stove, as they can catch fire easily.

Moreover, cooking fires can result from forgetfulness, intoxication, or reduced cognitive function. The guide emphasizes the importance of being aware of the risks and being mindful of one's surroundings when cooking.

Despite their prevalence, cooking fires are often underreported in the media, and official statistics may not accurately reflect their true frequency. Not all fires are reported to emergency services, particularly if the damage is minor, and so the true number of cooking fires may be higher than reported.

To reduce the risk of cooking fires, the Finnish National Rescue Association recommends taking preventative measures, such as removing unnecessary items from the stove area, focusing on cooking while the stove is in use, ensuring the home has a working smoke alarm, and identifying the location of fire extinguishers.

The guide also recommends investing in stove safety devices, such as a stove guard, which can help prevent fires caused by forgetfulness or reduced cognitive function. Additionally, loved ones can assist in ensuring kitchen safety by helping to remove potential hazards and keeping an eye on the stove while cooking.

It is important to note that a fire caused by cooking can be deadly, particularly for those who cannot escape the fire quickly. By following the safety tips outlined in the guide, individuals can reduce the risk of starting a fire while cooking and keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

What items have ignited on the stove?

Most commonly in the years 2016-2020, the materials or objects that caught fire first were those on or near the stove:

  • Food
  • Fat/grease
  • Miscellaneous objects
  • Dishes
  • Electric kettle
  • Microwave cover
  • Cutting board
  • Coffee maker
  • Pot holder or oven mitt
  • Coffee pot
  • Food packaging
  • Plastic container
  • Paper
  • Empty pot or pan
  • Baby bottle
  • Plastic spatula


Source: Finnish National Rescue Association