Last updated: 23/12/2020, 7:44 AM

First-time chefs offered cooking safety advice to avoid Christmas dinner disasters

23/12/2020 08:00
Safety warnings

First-time Christmas chefs are being offered advice by firefighters so their debut dinners don’t end in disaster.

As tighter Coronavirus restrictions came into force at the weekend and most people will now be staying at home for the duration of the festive period, London Fire Brigade has issued advice for those who may be cooking a big meal for the first time.

Half of all fires started in the kitchen

During 2020, more than half of all fires (51%) in homes in London started in the kitchen and 40% of these involved kitchen appliances like hobs and ovens as well as other cooking equipment such as toasters and microwaves.

Common causes of fires in the kitchen include pans boiling dry on the hob, cooking left unattended and items left too close to the hob catching fire.

Video calls and cooking

Video-calling friends or family for cooking tips is a great way to feel connected with those you can’t see in person this year, however firefighters are concerned that if people are cooking for the first time, they may get distracted while getting advice and take their eye of their creations.

Cooking while under the influence of alcohol is also a cause of fires in the home and as many people enjoy a glass or two over Christmas – this is another worry for firefighters.

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The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “Festive celebrations are going to be very different for most of us this year and the last thing we want is to for our firefighters to be interrupting you if you’ve had a kitchen calamity.

Simple tips for staying safe

“You can keep safe by following our simple cooking tips such as never placing anything that can catch fire near the hob. Keep all objects, like tea towels, cloths, plastic bowls and anything flammable well away from the cooker and always check the hob is turned off when you've finished cooking.

“If you are planning to enjoy a tipple or two, it’s best to wait until after you’ve served up your Christmas lunch.

"Attempting to extinguish a fire by yourself can lead to injuries or even be fatal and can increase the risk of more severe damage to your property. Leave the room, close the door, shout a warning to others and call 999.

“This year has been tough enough for everyone so we just want to ensure people stay as safe as possible. From everyone at London Fire Brigade, we hope you still manage to have a nice festive period.”

Firefighter safety tips for first-time chefs

With bubbling pans, open flames and maybe children or a pet underfoot, kitchens are potentially dangerous places. Here are our top tips to reduce fire risks:

  • Don’t leave cooking unattended on the hob or grill – if you must leave the kitchen, turn off the heat.
  • Not feeling well? Don’t cook – if you're very tired, have been drinking alcohol or are taking medication that might make you drowsy, it's safer not to risk it.
  • Be fabric aware – loose clothing can easily catch fire, so take care not to lean over a hot hob, and always keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.

Visit our cooking pages for more safety advice 

Christmas can be hard

If you are feeling lonely and finding this period difficult, find out more on how you can get help from the NHS website.


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