As Thanksgiving approaches, we here at the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company take this opportunity to remind you about fire safety on Thanksgiving. Accidents in the kitchen are high on the list of reasons home fires occur. During major holidays, the incidence of fires related to cooking rises dramatically. According to the latest estimates by the National Fire Protection Agency, in 2013 there were 1,550 home fires related to cooking on Thanksgiving Day. This represents a spike of 230 percent above the daily average. While property damage is of great concern, injuries and death also occur and that can have long - term, devastating results.
Many factors contribute to the high incidence of cooking fires on Thanksgiving. It's a well - known fact the kitchen tends to be the most popular room in a house. Guests like to congregate in the kitchen and visit with the cook(s). This can present a problem when many guests are invited to celebrate the holiday. Because there are so many, the size and scope of the meal means multiple dish preparation is in progress simultaneously. Conversations are a distraction and it's extremely easy to lose track of what is on the stove. It's when distractions occur that cooking mishaps can happen.
Not to despair, there are steps you can take that will reduce the risk of a home cooking fire. Per the National Fire Protection Agency, here are the top - five cooking tips to help keep you fire safe during the holidays:
1. Remain in the kitchen while you’re cooking, and keep a close eye on what you fry! If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Regularly check on food that’s simmering, baking or roasting, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
2. Keep things that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels and curtains away from the cooking area.
3. Be alert when cooking. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
4. If you have a small (grease) cooking fire on the stovetop and decide to fight the fire: Smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
5. If you’re cooking a turkey using a disposable aluminum pan, consider doubling up and using two pans to avoid a puncture, as dripping turkey juices can cause an oven fire.
Recently, there has been a trend towards the use of gas - fueled fryers to deep fry turkeys. The National Fire Protection Agency continues to believe that turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer. These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants, for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of "oil-less" turkey fryer." The Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company endorses this recommendation.
However, we also recognize some consumers will insist upon using these appliances. If you decide to do so, follow the aforementioned cooking tips. Acquaint yourself with the appliance and the manufacturer's use recommendations. Pay special attention to those precautions detailing propane safety. Closely follow all directions for safely preparing a deep - fried turkey. Make sure the appliance is in the yard away from the home and especially not on a wooden deck. Ensure the turkey is completely thawed prior to immersing it in hot oil. When the turkey is immersed in the hot-oil, the oil level will most likely rise. In anticipation of that, ensure the cooking pot is large enough to contain the rising oil. Otherwise, a boil over may occur which will probably result in an uncontrolled fire. Have a portable dry-chemical fire extinguisher available. It should be charged up and in good condition. Preposition it immediately adjacent to where you are deep - frying. Should a fire erupt, the fire may be too large to fight by the time you find it and retrieve it.
The Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company wishes all a Happy Thanksgiving. Please be fire safe!!!