If a house catches fire, there’s a good chance the culprit is unattended cooking.
In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly half of all home structure fires – 46% – are started by some type of cooking equipment, and while more people die from fires started from cigarettes (stop smoking in bed, people), nearly one in five fire related deaths and over 4 in 10 fire injuries are the result of cooking fires.
While these alarming numbers makes sense since cooking requires heat, the reality is most of these fires are preventable. According to the NFPA, the biggest cause of cooking fires is unattended cooking, which makes me wonder why don’t we create technology that helps us prevent fires from starting in the first place. And while smoke alarms are good reactive measures to help us know something has gone wrong, wouldn’t it be better to create preventative measures that stop the cooking process at the first sign of trouble?
That’s what a new handful startups such as Innohome, iGuardFire and Wallflower have developed a new generation of auto shut off devices that help prevent fires in the kitchen. These devices sense potential cooking fires and act to shut off cooking equipment and sounding alarms before a fire starts.
Although Wallflower works with any electrical stove, the technology was built to help those who are most at risk: elderly people, who might have hard time remembering all the tasks that they are performing, and college students/young adults/teenagers due to them possibly cooking for the first time in their lives.
Fire safety in the kitchen is not something that we think all the time as we associate our kitchen to be the heart of the home, the safe place. Therefore, we don’t often think about all the combustible items that are around our cooking devices or the dangers that cooking represents. According to NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) 62% of all cooking fires were caused by ranges or cooktops.
In addition, the stove top cooking presents another set of problems as we are often very busy when we cook: the children are running around, the dog is counter surfing, the TV is demanding our attention and the phone takes us away from the cooking range. A pan with hot oil can combust quickly and unexpectedly often causing massive damage to the kitchen and the surrounding areas. Wallflower is designed to protect against all these distractions where our attention might not be focused on the cooktop. The aim is to not only limit fires in the kitchen, but also reduce the amount of nuisance/false alarms by providing a device that doesn’t limit your cooking experience yet it protects you against all possible hazards.
The smart home technology has taken off in the past couple of years, and we are seeing more and more companies making their devices able to adapt into different ecosystems. Products like Amazon Echo and Google Home are giving every consumer an option to add other products, thus, making our homes more accessible through voice-controlled or other connected technology. Fire prevention systems will integrate with these platforms and will allow customers to get real-time updates on the status of their cooking equipment. The ability to offer instant feedback will be important for the end-user as they will be able to monitor not only their cooking event, but also have a sense of any potential hazardous situations that might develop if the range has been left unattended.
For many years the fire-protection services have focused on fire suppression yet the overall fire statistics have not gone down. The past couple of years there has been a shift in thinking, however, and more education is being directed towards fire prevention. The NFPA is actively seeking innovative products to reduce the number of house fires, and this is where all the new Smart Home solutions offers the customers an opportunity to enhance their safety in their homes.