The leading causes of residential fires are cooking and electrical equipment. Simple, common sense strategies and safety tips can prevent these types of fires.

Prevent kitchen fires:

• Do not wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
• Never leave cooking food unattended.
• If you must leave the kitchen, for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
• Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
• Keep children away from cooking areas.
• Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove.
• Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
• Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
• Make sure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.
• Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms.


Based on 2006-2010 annual averages:


• Unattended cooking was the leading contributor in home cooking fires.
• 67 percent of home cooking fires started with the ignition cooking materials.
• Stoves accounted for 58 percent of home-cooking fire incidents.
• 57 percent of non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
• Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.
• Thanksgiving is the peak day for fires.

Source: National Fire Protection Association

Prevent electrical fires:

• Inspect electrical wiring.
• Inspect appliances for old or broken plugs and cords.
• Make sure your sockets aren’t overburdened.
• Keep flammable materials away from electrical appliances and outlets.
• Fix shorts and faulty wiring.

Caring for children


Children are naturally curious about fire. Teach them that fire is a tool, not a toy.

Fire escape plan

Create an escape plan that includes two ways out of every room and practice it with your family and household members. To create a suitable plan, you should look at evacuation diagrams and find the safest route out of your home. If you wanted, you could even label your fire exits to ensure you know the route. Not only can signs direct you, but they’re also visible through smoke.

For more information contact Karen Nakamura by email, or at the Building Industry Association of Hawaii,


Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.