It's a different kind of fire season starting Thursday: cooking fire season. Every year, national statistics show, there's an increase in cooking fires on Thanksgiving and other winter holidays.
--An average of 155,000 cooking fires a year. Many more go unreported.
--460 people die each year as a result of these fires, which also result in
--Nearly 5,000 injuries and $724 million in property damage.
These statistics are from the United States Fire Administration (USFA), which reported that the number of cooking fires increases on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and urges people not to become “a cooking fire casualty.”
One of the biggest holiday cooking dangers is the deep fat turkey frier, such a consistent fire injury risk that the USFA and other agencies plead with people to just not use them. Underwriters Laboratory will not endorse or put its seal of approval on any model of the item (see video).
The USFA offers a few of its extensive safety tips.
Watch What You Heat
- The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
- Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you have to be alert. You won't be if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy.
Keep Things That Can Catch Fire and Heat Sources Apart
- Keep anything that can catch fire - potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, or curtains - away from your stovetop.
- Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
- Keep pets off cooking surfaces and nearby countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
For the extended version of safety tips, from how to avoid scalding children to how to put out a kitchen fire, check the USFA site.