Protip: stay focused in the kitchen.

By Tim Nelson
Updated April 10, 2020
Advertisement

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram lately, you’re no doubt aware that an astounding number of people coping with the great COVID-19 quarantine are cooking at home. It makes sense: most of us have dropped what we’re doing to stay completely put, and if there were ever a time to try a new recipe or brush up on your skills in the kitchen, it’s now.

In related but totally unsurprising news, the surge of amateur chefs over the past month has been accompanied by a noticeable uptick in both kitchen fires and burn injuries according to people responsible for tracking these sorts of things. Munchies reports that fire departments from coast to coast are seeing more house fires as a result of kitchen mishaps, which the National Fire Protection Association states is responsible for nearly half of all home fires.

Beyond the fact that we’re simply cooking from home more often, the NFPA notes that the shift from cooking as an activity to a begrudging necessity during a stressful time means we’re increasingly likely to lose focus on the task at hand. “As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, there’s greater potential for distracted cooking,” Lorraine Carli, the NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy said.

Just as homes are more likely to burn as a result from cooking these days, so are people. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that there’s been an increase in burn injuries from cooking accidents like “hot cooking oil catching fire, barbecue-related burns and scald burns from hot liquids.” The end result is that these burn victims can sometimes require a stay in an intensive care unit, sucking up precious hospital resources at a time when they’re desperately needed to treat a pandemic.

In order to reduce the risk of ending up in a hospital or being forced out of your home, the NFPA recommends taking a few precautions, not the least of which is to cut out distractions while you cook. They advise staying in the kitchen whenever food is frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling, and turning off the stove if you have to leave the area. Check in on anything you’re baking often, and set a timer to remember that the oven is on. Keep any flammable kitchen implements far away from the stove, and especially don’t cook anything requiring a flame when you’re tired or drunk.

Of course, the best way to avoid starting a kitchen fire is to avoid cooking altogether. So next time someone judges you for ordering takeout (hopefully from a local restaurant that needs your support), just tell them you’re being really good at doing fire safety. They’ll understand.