The holiday season is upon us, and that means colder nights, holiday lights, and plenty of large feasts with family and friends. It’s a wonderful time of the year, but also a time where we can easily be distracted with all the holiday festivities and become less aware of potential safety concerns around us. Seeing as many of us will be doing a lot of in-home cooking this time of year, we wanted to provide you with some key information around home cooking fires and some best practices in staying safe.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking causes an average of 173,200 reported home structure fires per year (49 percent of all reported home fires in the US), with the peak days for home cooking fires being Thanksgiving and Christmas. Having to deal with the ramifications on an in-home cooking fire would not be a fun way to spend your Christmas, so be aware and be prepared. That may seem like a generic statement, but it’s extremely important to be aware as most of these in-home cooking fires are the result of “unattended cooking”. While catching up with family and friends, it can be easy to forget about all the yummy food in the oven and on the stove. So, we implore you to remember these cooking safety tips below from the NFPA.
NFPA cooking fire prevention tips:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stove-top.
- Stay in the kitchen (or place where the cooking is happening) while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
- Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains – away from your stove-top.
If you do experience a cooking fire:
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number you have.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small gas fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove-top. leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Safety considerations for cooking with oil:
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stove-top.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sauteing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.
- If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.
For more information around staying safe this holiday season, visit the National Fire Protection Association website at NFPA.org. Here is a link to their fire causes & risks section: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks
Happy holidays and stay safe!