SPRINGFIELD, Il (WEHT) According to National Fire Protection Association and National Fire Incident Reporting System data, cooking is the leading cause of home fires. U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 166,100 home fires per year involving cooking equipment. Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment, with four times the average number occurring.
State Fire Marshal Matt Perez says it’s important to clean your cooking equipment thoroughly and have them inspected by a professional if anything seems out of the ordinary. In order to avoid disasters related to distraction, he suggests setting a timer to remind yourself of anything you might be cooking.
With smaller gatherings this year, more kitchens are expected to be used for meal prep and with that comes more chances for fire and injury. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe holiday:
- Make sure your home has both working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Never leave food that you are frying, boiling, grilling or broiling unattended. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short amount of time, turn off the stove.
- Create a “Kid Free Zone” of at least three feet around the stove or anywhere you are preparing hot food or drinks.
- Keep the area around the stove clear of towels, papers, potholders or anything that can burn
- 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 when food is ready.
- If there is a fire in the oven, keep the door shut and turn off the heat.
- Smother small flames in a pan by sliding a lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and leave the lid over the pan while it cools.
- If you have any doubt fighting a small fire, just get out! Call 911 or your emergency number from outside the home.
If you plan on frying a turkey this year:
- Make sure to not overfill oil in the fryer. Fill the pot you plan to use to fry the turkey with water and place the turkey in. This will help to determine how much oil is needed without causing oil to spill out when you are ready to fry, which could lead to a fire.
- Use the turkey fryer outdoors only.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying.
- Use long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle the pot.
(This story was originally published on November 21, 2020)
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