Did you know that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries? Paying attention to fire safety in the kitchen is always important, but especially at Thanksgiving when there are often a lot of guests, activity, and distractions. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
As you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, remember that by following a few simple safety tips you can enjoy time with your friends and family and keep everyone safe. Safety tips from the NFPA include:
- Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently. (Unattended cooking has been found to be the leading contributing factor in cooking fires!)
- Always keep a close eye on other dishes you’re cooking and stay in the kitchen as much as possible. For foods with longer cooking times, set a timer to help monitor them carefully.
- Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, and towels away from your stovetop.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove and anywhere else hot food or drink is being prepared or carried.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children in a high cabinet, preferably a locked one.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button and holding it for a few seconds to trigger the alarm. If you don’t hear an alarm, or the sound is weak, the batteries likely need to be replaced, or the alarm may need replacing.
If you do have a small cooking fire on the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. If you have any doubt about fighting a fire, get out! Call 911 or the local emergency number from outside your home.
It should be mentioned that the NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers as they present significant fire hazards. If a turkey fryer is going to be used, it should be placed on a sturdy level surface at least 10 feet from your home. For other recommendations, see FEMA’s Fact Sheet on turkey fryer fire safety.
This blog was written by Beth Graham, Director of Quality, Research, and Training