Home Cooking Fires Peak Thanksgiving Day

Accidental home cooking fires are a leading contributor to residential fires. With the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security the following is a press release for fire safety supported by the fire departments and coroner’s office of Kosciusko County:

Home cooking fires are three times more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. Public safety officials are reminding Hoosiers that it’s imperative to keep safety in mind as Thanksgiving meals are being prepared.

It can be easy to get wrapped up in entertaining guests, but it is important to remember to monitor meal preparation closely. Stay in the kitchen or other food cooking area (outside for deep fryer, grill, etc.) as most cooking fires start because cooking food has been left unattended.

“Nearly all firefighters have witnessed the heartbreaking way a fire can destroy a family’s holiday in a matter of just a few minutes,” said Indiana State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson. “The holiday season is a special time of year, and the last thing anyone wants is for a devastating fire to ruin the festivities. Stay alert when you’re in the kitchen, pay attention to what you’re cooking, and use common sense.” The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The NFPA estimates that every year U.S. fire departments respond to more than 150,000 home fires caused by cooking equipment. These fires cause an average of 500 civilian deaths, 4,600 civilian injuries and $756 million in direct property damage

Deep fryer safety
The deep-frying process requires that up to 5 gallons of oil be heated before placing the turkey into the device. Tests have shown that a number of available turkey fryers are not sturdy and can easily tip over, allowing hot oil to spill, creating a serious risk of fire or scalding. Some fryers are also prone to overheating, which can lead to hot oil splattering outside the fryer.

Preparing to deep fry a turkey 

  • If are going to prepare the turkey by deep frying, conduct the cooking outside on a level surface several feet from any building.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks, balconies or inside garages.
  • Don’t over fill the fryer with oil. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to use.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before placing it in the fryer.

Deep frying a turkey

  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls.  If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Cover bare skin when adding or removing food.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles.  If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Never allow small children in an area when turkey deep frying is occurring.

Deep fryer emergencies

  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
  • If oil begins to smoke, immediately turn off the flame.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.  If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher.
  • If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department or 9-1-1 for help.

General cooking safety

The National Fire Protection Association studies show cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Hundreds of Americans are killed each year due to home cooking fires and thousands more are injured. Cooking fires also cause roughly half a billion dollars in direct property damage to the homes and the belongings inside.

Safety in the kitchen

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from your stove top.
  • Clean up food and grease from burners.

Child safety in the kitchen

  • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove.
  • If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible, and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots with hot contents will be knocked over.
  • Never hold a small child while cooking.

Kitchen fire prevention and suppression 

  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water.
  • Smother small grease fires by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the stove. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • To suppress an oven fire simply turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
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