As families prepare Thanksgiving meals, it's important to keep safety in mind since cooking fires are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year. On Thanksgiving Day, the incidence of home cooking fires is roughly three times the daily average.
Studies by the National Fire Prevention Association show cooking fires are the primary 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 homes and contents.
Remember to stay in the kitchen and closely monitor meal preparation. Most cooking fires start because cooking has been left unattended.
Deep-frying a turkey requires heating up to 5 gallons of oil before placing the turkey into the fryer. Tests have shown that some turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot oil and creating a serious risk offire and burns. Turkey fryers also may overheat, spilling or splattering hot oil that causes fires, serious injuries and property loss. Frying turkeys should always be done outside on a non-flammable surface.
Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Tobias offers these tips for safer cooking:
Stand by your pan:
- Stay in the kitchen when you're frying, grilling or broiling food.
- If you leave the kitchen for even a short period, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food, check it regularly; 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 contacts a gas flame or electric burner.
No kids allowed
- Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a kid-free zone of 3 feet 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.
Keep it clean
- Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains - away from your stovetop.
- Clean food and grease from burners and the stovetop.
For more information on keeping your family safe for the holidays, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 and ask for the Emergency Services Public Education Office or visit the county's website at www.scgov.net.