Holiday Cooking Safety
Holidays, a time for family gatherings and home cooked meals. From baking and broiling to grilling and frying, everyone enjoys being around the kitchen during the holidays. It is rarely on our radar to think about fire safety in the kitchen, but Holidays are peak times for cooking fires. Unattended cooking is the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths. By adhering to a few safety tips as you prepare your holiday meals, you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep your family safe from a fire at your home this holiday season.
When cooking on the stovetop, it is important to stay in the kitchen so you can keep an eye on the food being prepared. During the holidays, it is common to have multiple items cooking at once, from the bubbling pots on the stove to biscuits rising in the oven. With family around, it is easy to get distracted and you may need to step away from the kitchen. Make sure you get another dependable family member to watch the stove if you need to do so. If a fire does break out on the stove, cover the fire or burning pan with a lid, and use a fire extinguisher. Do not use salt, flour, or water to try to put the fire out; these are ingredients you probably have on hand, but could cause a stove fire to flare up. If you are cooking during the night, set your alarm to wake you up periodically to check on your roasting ham or turkey. One-third of people killed by cooking fires were sleeping at the time.
Deep-frying turkeys is a popular trend during the holidays. If you decide to fry a turkey this holiday season, place your deep-fryer away from anything flammable. Be sure the oil used to fry the turkey is the proper temperature. It is best to stay away from trees, dry grass, and other landscaping, and be sure the fryer is placed in a well-ventilated area at least 20 feet away from your home or other structure. Make sure you wipe the fryer to prevent hot oil from dripping and causing a fire to ignite. Before placing a turkey into a deep-fryer, the turkey should be completely thawed and dry. Oil and water do not mix! When cooking or frying your turkey, make sure you don’t leave your home, and be sure to check on the turkey frequently. It is also important to keep a fire extinguisher close by in case a fire does break out.
Keep children away from the stove, and even the counter tops where hot foods and liquids are being displayed. The steam or splash from vegetable broth, gravy, and even coffee can cause serious burns. Keep the pathways clear so you don’t trip over toys, purses, or bags when moving dishes from the stove to the dining table. Be sure that knives are kept out of reach of children. Remove anything near the stove that could catch on fire, such as wooden utensils, oven mitts, plastic shopping bags, and dish towels. Also, make certain that electric cords from the coffee maker, plate warmers, mixer, electric knives, and crockpots are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child. Matches and utility lighters should also be kept out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.
If you do not have a smoke detector in or near your kitchen, now is the time to purchase one. You also need at least one on each level of your home, and in sleeping areas. If you do have smoke alarms, make sure they are functioning properly. Check the smoke detector by pushing the test button. It is a good idea to switch out the batteries for the year, if you haven’t already done so. You should also keep a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen. Familiarize yourself on how to use one before the holiday cooking begins.
Whether you are baking your award-winning pound cake, making the perfect gravy for your dressing, or are outside deep-frying the turkey, disaster can strike the time you turn your back from cooking. By taking the proper safety precautions over the holidays, you can ensure that you do not become a holiday fire statistic.