Holiday cooking safety tips

From NBC12 News

With many of us preparing to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, the Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services would like to remind everyone to be careful in the kitchen. Cooking fires are the number one cause of residential fires nationwide. Holiday cooking fires are especially common as many of us are trying to do too many things at once. The primary cause of cooking fires is unattended cooking. Never leave the room, even for "just a minute," while you are cooking. Most cooking fires start with the ignition of common household items (e.g., food or grease, cabinets, wall coverings, paper or plastic bags, curtains, etc.). Make sure that all combustible items remain away from heat and fire sources. Many people find alcohol makes them sleepy or causes them to make poor decisions, which can be a very dangerous combination while cooking.

  • Three in every 10 reported home fires start in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home.
  • There were114,000 reportedhome structure fires each year between 1999 and 2002 that were associated with cooking equipment. Annually these fires resulted in 290 deaths, 4,380 injuries and $453 million in direct property damage.
  • Two out of three reported home cooking fires start with the range or stove.
    Safety tips:
  • Always use cooking equipment tested and approved by a recognized testing facility.
  • Never leave food cooking on the stovetop unattended, and keep a close eye on food cooking inside the oven.
  • Keep cooking areas clean and clear of combustibles (e.g. potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging).
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet (1 meter) around the stove. Keep pets from underfoot so you do not trip while cooking.
  • Also, keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto burners.
  • Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
  • Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
  • Always keep a potholder, oven mitt and lid handy, but away from the heat source. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Don't remove the lid until it is completely cool. Never pour water on a grease fire and never discharge a fire extinguisher onto a pan fire as it can spray or shoot burning grease around the kitchen, which may spread the fire.
  • If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and your clothing.
  • If there is a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Call the fire department and make sure to have the microwave serviced before you use it again.