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How to prevent chip pan fires

June 2018

Chip pan fires are the UK’s biggest cause of injuries from fire in the home. There are around 12,000 chip pan fires every year, in which around 50 people die, and some 4,600 are injured. In fact, Fire Services now encourage people to use oven chips or modern deep-fat fryers, due to the risk of chip pan fires when cooking on the hob. In some counties, they’ll even provide you with a deep-fat fryer in exchange for your chip pan. But how to prevent chip pan fires?

Chip Pans and Safety Considerations

It is possible to use a chip pan safely, but you need to be sensible and very careful. Oil can cause serious burns – it’s volatile and can easily overheat when cooking and burst into flames. You should never leave a chip pan unattended, even for a few seconds. It’s in those few seconds that chip pan fires can start.

Stove Guard can virtually eliminate the risk of chip pan fires, as it uses temperature sensors to detect when the hob is getting too hot or heating up too quickly, and switches it off immediately. The temperature at which this happens is well below the point at which cooking oil catches fire. Stove Guard is installed in more than 120,000 homes across Europe, and, since the product has been installed, no fires have been reported.

Below are a few of our tips for preventing chip pan fires. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that people are human – they can get distracted when they are cooking, they can forget advice and they can panic in the event of a fire. They’re particularly at risk if they’re inexperienced in the kitchen or have difficulty remembering things. Installing a device like Stove Guard, which is not only effective at preventing stove top fires but does so without the need for human input, is the best option.

Tips for Preventing Chip Pan Fires

  • Never fill the chip pan or deep fat fryer more than a third full of fat or oil. If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot – turn off the heat and leave it to cool.
  • Test the temperature of the oil before using it with a small piece of whatever you’re frying. If it crisps quickly, it’s hot enough.
  • Make sure the food is dry before putting it in – if it’s wet, the oil can explode or spilt oil droplets as the water turns into steam when it expands 1500 times in volume! For this reason, you should NEVER throw water onto a chip pan fire or any frying pan. Instead of calming the fire, the water sinks to the bottom of the pan, where it instantly vaporises, throwing out a fireball of burning oil. If you can safely do so, turn off the heat; then leave the room, shut the door and call 999. A purposely designed fire blanket can be used, but you should never use a damp tea towel.

The bottom line – if using a chip pan, be extremely careful, and never, ever, leave it unattended.


Please note that the fire safety advice in this post is for informative purposes only. Unicook cannot be held liable for your safety in the kitchen.

In this post: Advice, Fire safety