We recently got a call from a consumer, irate that the bottom of her pan had fallen off after what was described as “a little water was left in the pan while the stove eye was on high” incident. Brazing solder had scorched her kitchen floor. Her calls to the FDA and to the CPSC hadn’t given her any satisfaction, so she called us.
Probably the cheapest investment in kitchen safety would be either an electronic or mechanical timer that you religiously set anytime anything is cooking. People get on the phone or computer, fall asleep in front of the TV, get distracted with something else and many times each day food is either burned or a pan is semi-destroyed on top or inside their stoves.
The overwhelming majority of “boil drys” don’t result in serious injury or damage, but burning food can cause a house fire, a serious injury or even death. Using a timer just makes good sense.
Another good rule of thumb is never to leave the kitchen if a pan is pre-heating. Pans are not really designed to absorb heat for any period of time without food or liquid in the vessel. Unless the pan is designed to be left alone (such as an electric slow cooker), it is safest to not leave home while things are cooking. Sometimes this is impossible, but err on the side of caution.
Cooking and kitchen incidents are the leading contributor to home fires says the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Many of those are the result of inattention.