For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations. So keeping fire safety top of mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at home.
Did you know Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires? According to the National Fire Protection Association®, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
Cooking safety tips to ensure a safe holiday season:
Before you serve a meal, it’s essential to serve up fire safety in the kitchen. There’s nothing like spending time in the kitchen cooking a delicious meal for family and friends or an appetizing treat for yourself. But do you know the important steps to take long before anyone takes the first bite?
Cook with Caution:
Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- A scald injury can happen at any age. Children, older adults and people with disabilities are especially at risk. Hot liquids from bath water, hot coffee and even microwaved soup can cause devastating injuries.
- With busy lives, families rely on the microwave oven as a quick way to heat up a meal, warm up a drink or defrost dinner. While the convenience of the microwave oven is something we take for granted, safety should not be.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
If you have any doubts fighting the small kitchen fire, here is what to do:
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.
Keep in mind the potential dangers of deep-frying a Turkey:
Turkey fryers can easily tip over spilling hot oil across a large area. Use your turkey fryer only outdoors on a sturdy, level surface well away from things that can burn. Make sure to have a “3-foot kid- and pet-free zone” around your turkey fryer to protect against burn injuries.
An overfilled cooking pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside. Determine the correct amount of oil needed by first placing the turkey in the pot with water.
A partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before you fry it.
Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire. Check the temperature often with a cooking thermometer so the oil won’t overheat.
- The pot, lid and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries. Use long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle these items.
Cooking with oil safety tips:
Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on the fire.
If you have a small (grease or oil) cooking fire and decide to fight the fire:
In an oven: turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
On the stovetop: smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
Always have a fire extinguisher handy. Grease and oil fires call for an extinguisher labeled Class B (residential) or Class K (commercial).
If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.
Prepare and evacuate in case of emergency:
Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.
Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm.
Know your evacuation zone and review your evacuation map prior to emergencies.
A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code® requires interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
- Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.
Southern Marin Fire District wishes you and your family a safe holiday season! We highly encourage you to share this information with your family and friends so we can continue to keep our communities safe.