Food is a central part of most holidays, and special holiday dishes are always family favorites. As you and your family are likely spending more time cooking during the holidays than any other time of the year, it’s important to keep kitchen safety measures in mind.
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and related injuries. Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires, with 1,630 across the U.S. in 2018; and Christmas Day is the second highest day. Here are a few safety tips to remember as you begin to make new memories in the kitchen this holiday season.
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Inspect and Test Smoke Detectors
The National Fire Protection Association reports that, “Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).” It isn’t enough just to have them. Inspect each one to make sure it is clean and operable. Replace the batteries if you cannot remember the last time you installed fresh ones.
Place a Fire Extinguisher Nearby
Any cooking operations should have a fire extinguisher within easy reach. This includes the kitchen stove, ovens, and any outdoor cooking areas, such as a grill or deep fryer. Teach family members to keep one close while cooking and how to operate it if necessary.
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Know How to Handle Grease
Grease fires can happen easily with cooking, so make sure you and family members know how to extinguish them. Never throw water on flaming grease, as it will splatter and spread the fire. Smother grease fires in pots or pans with a properly-fitting lid. If it has already spread beyond the cooking pot, use a fire extinguisher.
Only Cook in Appropriate Clothing
While you may want to dress up for company, save that new outfit for after food preparation. When cooking, wear clothing that cannot snag on handles or hang onto hot surfaces. Tie up long hair and avoid dangling jewelry on your hands, wrists, or ears.
Keep Appliances Neat and Orderly
Thoroughly clean all your major appliances, especially before a large span of cooking takes place. Unplug and store any unused appliances or those you are finished using. Several plugged-in appliances in use could cause an electrical short and possible fire.
Maintain a Kid-Free Safe Zone
Older kids may want to help with the cooking, which is great. Teach them to be a responsible chef! Younger children should be kept at least three feet away from all hot surfaces or cooking areas for safety.
If in Doubt – Get Out!
If a fire occurs while cooking, do your best to safely and quickly extinguish the flames. Put lids on all pots, leave oven doors closed, and use a fire extinguisher. If you doubt if the fire can be handled safely, get out. Close all doors to contain the fire for as long as possible to one area and get out of the house. Call 911 as soon as you safely can and provide directions to your home, as well as a clear description of the fire.
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