OFD Deputy Chief offers Thanksgiving fire safety tips
While most people consider overeating the greatest peril of Thanksgiving, cooking the day’s feast presents its own risks, too. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many occurring on Thanksgiving as any other day of the year. In 2010, there were 1,370 fires on Thanksgiving, a 219 percent increase over the daily average.
“Thanksgiving is a fun, festive holiday, but it’s also very hectic,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “All the entertaining and distractions make it easy to forget about what’s cooking on the stovetop.”
World renowned chef, the late Julia Child cooked up some memorable advice about how to prevent fires in your kitchen. Home cooking fires peak on major U.S. holidays that traditionally include cooking, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and Easter. Overall, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 156,400 home fires involving cooking equipment in 2010. These fires caused 420 civilian deaths, 5,310 civilian injuries, and $993 million in direct property damage. By recognizing the risks of the holidays and making simple adjustments, people can greatly reduce their chance of home cooking fires.
Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
When simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
Stay alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.
If you have a cooking fire:
Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.
If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path out of the home, and that someone has called the fire department.
Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.