Can you guess the most common day for home fires? Unfortunately, Thanksgiving Day sees over three times more calls for home fires than any other day of the year. While these fires can be caused by a variety of reasons, like heating equipment malfunctions or holiday decorations catching on fire, the leading cause is cooking, especially unattended cooking.
Fortunately, many of these home fires can be avoided by taking preventative measures in the kitchen and practicing attentive cooking habits. In fact, most work in preventing these fires occurs before the cooking even starts.
Here are some important steps to take before cooking your Thanksgiving feast this year:
- Clean all surfaces to remove grease, crumbs and other debris that can catch fire.
- Inspect all appliance cords prior to use, replace them if wires are exposed or frayed.
- Remember to never plug appliances into extension cords, they must be plugged directly into a wall outlet.
- Before cooking, change into short sleeves or roll your sleeves up. Never cook while wearing loose strings like on a hoodie or apron.
- Keep a lid or baking sheet nearby when cooking on the stove. If you notice boiling grease, smoke or flames while cooking, place the lid or baking sheet over the pan, turn off the burner and back away from the stove to let the food cool.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- Lastly, establish and maintain a child-free zone at least three feet around areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
After taking these steps, it’s just as important to remain attentive in the kitchen while cooking. Always be present in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling. It’s also a great practice to set timers while cooking so you don’t get distracted and forget about the food. In addition, make sure to keep anything that can catch fire, such as oven mitts and towels, away from the stovetop and other heat sources. Another easy way to avoid home fires is to always turn pot handles towards the back of the stove. This will prevent anyone from bumping into or knocking over hot food, especially during busy family gatherings.
For those of us who prefer to fry our Thanksgiving turkey, safety is more important than ever. Accidents while frying turkeys are one of the most common causes of home fires and home fire injuries.
- Never fry a turkey indoors. Ensure that the fryer is at least 10 feet away from your home and other flammable materials including patios, overhanging roofs, trees or leaves.
- Make sure your turkey fryer is on a sturdy, level surface of concrete or dirt. Do not move the fryer once it is in use.
- Before heating the oil, fill the fryer up with water and place your turkey into the water to determine the correct amount of oil needed to prevent spills.
- Ensure that the turkey is completely thawed before you fry it, this will prevent oil splatter and spills.
- While frying, frequently check the oil temperature with a cooking thermometer.
- Use long cooking gloves that protect both hands and arms when you are handling the pot, lid and handles of a turkey fryer.
- Establish and maintain a child-free zone at least three feet away from the fryer.
Keep these tips in mind for a safe holiday and on behalf of Arvada Fire, have a happy Thanksgiving!