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'Top of the Pots' and 'Hob Slobs' revealed in fire quiz

31 July 2017

Alarming statistics around kitchen fire safety in Kent and Medway have resulted in firefighters issuing a stark warning.

What was a light-hearted quiz asking people about their cooking habits has revealed some alarming results for Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS). The internet quiz called, ‘Are your kitchen safety habits the stuff of nightmares?’, was designed to get a snap-shot of participants’ behaviours around cooking safety, through a series of questions relating to fire risks in the kitchen.

Everyone who completed the quiz* which was designed both to increase awareness of cooking fires and to raise a smile, was given feedback on their kitchen ‘status’ – including that they could be a ‘Hob Slob’ or ‘Top of the Pots’. They were also encouraged to follow the accompanying advice to help them and their family stay safe from fire.

KFRS’s community safety group manager Colin King said: “The quiz was created as a light-hearted way of looking at the serious issue of kitchen fire safety, and the results give us a basic insight in to some of the common challenges we face in helping to prevent fires in the home.”

Distraction is believed to be a major cause of kitchen fires in the home in Kent and Medway, but the quiz uncovered even more concerning behaviours including:

  • Almost half of quiz participants admitted that they don’t always remember to turn the cooker off after use

  • 1 in 5 admitted to leaving the room while cooking

  • Of those who admitted to being easily distracted, 60% said that their phone or the doorbell diverts their attention

  • Over a third blamed the TV or social media for taking their eye off the stove.

Drinking alcohol and cooking is considered another major factor of fires in the home, as it can impairyour concentration and can cause drowsiness; the quiz gave worrying insight in this area too:

  • 60% of participants admitted to drinking ‘moderately’ while they are cooking

  • Alarmingly, 1 in 5 said that they sometimes cook after drinking heavily.

Cleanliness and hygiene are also contributing factors, and firefighters recommend keeping all cooking appliances clean. A build-up of grease and debris can cause a fire and it was this area that also highlighted some grubby details:

  • 20 per cent of quiz participants said they only cleaned their cookers or ovens when they started to see smoke

  • Over a third admitted that their kitchens are often untidy and cluttered, which can cause a fire to spread quickly.

Regular testing of your smoke alarms is essential to ensure they will alert you to a fire in your home, again the quiz revealed starling results:

  • While 1 in 5 said they tested theirs weekly, nearly half of people said they didn’t need to test their smoke alarms as burnt cooking sets them off.

If your smoke alarm goes off due to cooking, KFRS may advise repositioning it to avoid this happening, or switching to a heat-detecting alarm if it has be fitted too close to the kitchen. An alarm that keeps going off due to cooking fumes is more likely to be ignored in the event of an actual fire.

A well-rehearsed escape plan is vital and firefighters advise that you leave your home immediately in the event of a fire and phone 999 and ask for the fire service.

  • Half of the participants quizzed said they have an escape plan and that they practice with their family.

  • Worryingly, the other half admitted they would probably tackle the fire themselves.

Group manager King went on to say: “While wanting to handle a fire yourself is a natural instinct, it is easy to underestimate how dangerous fire smoke can be. Fires can spread very rapidly and you can be overcome sooner than you realise, often with serious consequences.”

Group Manager King added: “Our latest cooking safety campaign highlights how easy it is to get distracted or complacent about the risk of kitchen fires in your home and focusses on how small changes to your cooking habits can avoid a fire and keep you safe.

“We would encourage people to have a go at the quiz and find out how their results compare with friends and family members, and also to take up the safety advice we offer.”

If you need home safety advice, please contact our Home Safety Team on 0800 923 700 or

*Based on approximately 650 completed responses to KFRS’s quiz on between 13 June 2016 and 13 June 2017.




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