Dicing with Death: Cooking accidents causing 15 electrical fires every day in Britain’s kitchens

British kitchens playing host to 94% of electrical fires in the home caused by misuse of appliances

Almost five and a half thousand electrical fires involving food and the misuse of electrical appliances were reported in British domestic kitchens last year – the equivalent of 15 every single day – a consumer protection Charity can reveal.

Electrical Safety First, the UK’s leading electrical safety charity, analysed data from the Home Office, Stats Wales and the Scottish and Northern Irish Fire and Rescue Services and discovered that a staggering 7,067 accidental fires resulting from appliance misuse in the kitchen last year, contributing to around 72 casualties or fatalities each month across the country.  And over three quarters of these (5,442) were caused by cooking appliances or equipment, with food being the first item ignited – the equivalent of nearly 15 every single day.

While faulty appliances are a big danger, 2 in 5 accidental electrical fires in the kitchen were caused by misuse, demonstrating the extent to which consumer behaviour is in need of improvement. Kitchen appliance misuse contributed to a third of all accidental electrical fires in British homes last year, while 94% of all appliance misuse fires occurred in the kitchen, making it the clear ‘danger zone’ for electrical safety in the home.    Perhaps unsurprisingly, cookers and ovens were the appliances most likely to be involved in these accidents, contributing as they did to almost 12 fires a day. Grills and toasters (almost three a day), Microwaves (two and a half a day) and ring/hot plates (2 a day) were the other appliances most likely to be ‘misused’. 

Separate consumer research from the Charity offers further insight into the risks Brits are taking in their kitchens. More than 1 in 3 Brits say they’ve had an electrical accident in the kitchen – but over 2 in 5 Brits leave their kitchen appliances like tumble dryers and washing machines running while out of the house with just over 3 in 10 leaving them on whilst asleep, and more than 1 in 5 admit to having fallen asleep with food left cooking in the oven, microwave, or on the hob. Rather unsettlingly, 17% of brits haven’t cleaned their oven and grill in over a year. A build-up of grease in an oven represents a serious fire risk.