Fire-safety tips prevent cooking casualties

I may determine most of my household’s holiday menu, but the question of whether I actually spend Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter in the kitchen is my husband’s purview — or rather his employer’s.

One certainty in the fire service is working holidays. It’s going to happen, so families just have to adjust. The other certainty, of course, is forgoing fire-station feasts for an unfortunate family’s emergency.

Because so many more people cook on Thanksgiving than on a typical day, according to the National Fire Protection Association, Americans are twice as likely to have a fire in their homes on the holiday than any other day of the year.

So here are some safety tips compiled by Illinois-based Underwriters Laboratories, a product safety testing organization. Consider these words of caution before igniting stove, oven or turkey-fryer:

Turn pot handles in, toward the stove: Pot handles can get bumped when several people are bustling around a busy kitchen. Turning them inward can keep them from being snagged.

Take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen: This serves as a reminder when you leave the room to answer the door or greet relatives that there are dishes in need of monitoring. Always try to stay in the kitchen while food is cooking.

Don’t hold your child while cooking: Fussy children can get too close to hot pans and plates, causing them to get injured or fall out of your arms.

Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing when cooking: For women, holiday time can mean frilly blouses, which could easily catch fire over a stove.

Keep your cooking area clutter free: Items on cluttered counters can get knocked into open flames, causing a fire. And when it’s time to take a finished dish off the stove, you won’t be able to find a place to set it down.

Safety first: Families should have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers while cooking and discuss an escape plan if there is a fire. Keep a flame-resistant oven mitt, pot holder or lid nearby to smother any flames.

And as for those famous turkey fryers: product-testing group doesn’t recommend them because the fryers present numerous safety hazards and there have been increasing reports of fires related to them.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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