Kent Fire & Rescue Service
Firefighters call for vigilance when cooking during the month of pancakes and romance

Firefighters call for vigilance when cooking during the month of pancakes and romance

9 February 2014

Image of child with pancake
Keep them safe this Pancake Day

Residents across Kent and Medway are gearing themselves up for some kitchen action this month with Pancake Day and Valentine’s Day on the way. But as people get busy in the kitchen, Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is reminding residents that a moments’ distraction can lead to a fire.

Last February (2014), KFRS was called out to 19 kitchen fires, most of which were cooking related mishaps. Whether it is leaving a pan on to simmer or forgetting about food under the grill, everyday distractions can have disastrous consequences.

Yesterday alone (Sunday 8 February), firefighters attended several incidents where distraction was a factor. These included:

  • a microwave fire in Codington Crescent, Gravesend, caused by burnt cooking. An elderly man was given oxygen therapy after breathing in smoke and was taken to hospital for checks.  The resident was alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm sounding.
  • a kitchen fire in Bazes Shaw, New Ash Green, caused after a resident forgot about a frying pan that they had placed in the top of an oven. The handle caught fire and spread to the oven and the kitchen units. Again, the smoke alarm alerted the residents to the fire.
  • a house full of smoke in Passmore Way, Tovil (near Maidstone), caused by overheated olive oil in a roasting pan that had been left in the oven for too long, creating a large quantity of thick smoke.

Whether you are cooking up a winter warmer, planning an evening in to impress a loved-one on Valentine’s Day or getting the frying pan out for Pancake Day, it is easy to get diverted from the task at hand and forget about the importance of fire safety.

While most of us know that creating the perfect pancake on Shrove Tuesday (17 February) requires careful attention to stop it burning and to ensure we flip it at just the right moment, we often forget to concentrate as much with our everyday cooking efforts.

KFRS Community Safety Manager Charlie Smith said: "We have all been guilty of walking away from the stove while preparing a meal. Unfortunately, it is all too common for a distraction to lead to a serious fire, which could endanger life or destroy your home."

Common distractions can include:

  • telephone rings
  • social media
  • someone at the door
  • demanding children
  • watching the television
  • another household chore, i.e. washing, cleaning, vacuuming
  • visit to the bathroom
  • drinking alcohol
  • going outside to smoke a cigarette.

"Remember - it only takes a couple of minutes to cook a pancake, but this is more than enough time for a serious fire to break out in your home. Whenever we step away from a cooker, even if it’s only for a moment, it’s important to first take any pots and pans off the heat and to turn off the hob or grill."

Watch 'Stand by you pan', our light-hearted cooking safety video or follow our kitchen safety tips.

Before: Photo setting the scene for romance with tea lights
BEFORE: Setting the scene for romance with tea lights. COPYRIGHT: Invicta Kent Media
Photo of burned out bedroom following a fire
AFTER: Burnt-out bedroom after tea lights started blaze. COPYRIGHT: Invicta Kent Media

Valentines Day is traditionally the perfect time to spoil that special someone, but fire crews are urging romantics to take precautions when planning a romantic evening next Saturday (14 February).

Community Safety Manager Charlie Smith said: "It’s surprising the lengths some people go to impress. A candle-lit dinner for two is a great way to express your love to your partner, so the last thing you need is a fire to ruin the moment."

Careless use of candles and tea lights could result in a far from perfect ‘hot date’, as one Kent resident discovered last year.

The budding Romeo, from Luton in Chatham, lit over 40 tea lights on the carpet of his bedroom that had been arranged to spell out his partner’s name. He had also placed candles in the shape of a love heart, all part of his romantic surprise. Unfortunately, while waiting for her to arrive, a fire broke out which completely destroyed the room and left the whole house uninhabitable.

Charlie Smith added: "Because tea lights come with a flat metal base many people think it is safe to place them directly onto any surface without a candleholder or a heat resistant saucer. However, they reach extremely high temperatures. If they’re placed directly on a plastic or combustible surface they quickly melt into the material and can cause a severe fire."

Keep safe with our candle and tea light safety advice.



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