How Not to Waste a Thanksgiving Meal with a Kitchen Fire

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According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over three times as many families will have their day ruined by a cooking fire on Thanksgiving than on an average day. Between 2005 and 2009, fires related to cooking equipment caused 390 deaths, 4800 injuries, and $771 million in property damage. On any day, that can only be counted as a terrible waste. But on Thanksgiving, with cooks intensely preparing the feast while large numbers of family (including children) and guests gather about, it is a recipe for real tragedy.

How To Avoid a Cooking Fire

Keep your day safe and thankful by following these tips:
  • Those responsible for cooking should keep alcohol consumption low until the food preparation is completed.
  • Keep an eye on the cooking: stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling especially.
  • If you leave the kitchen, even intending to be gone only a short time, turn ranges/cooktops and broilers off. If you do return shortly, no damage will be done to the food, which can slow-cook on the residual heat in your absence. And if a quick step out turns into something else, no damage will be done either -- something to be thankful for.
  • Check on baking or roasting goodies often (use a timer!), and never leave the home with the oven on.
  • Find a safe place far from the heat for combustibles like oven mitts, wooden or plastic utensils, paper or fabric towels, etc.
  • Although clothing ignited first in less than 1% of cooking related fires, these cases accounted for 15% of cooking fire deaths, so cook in clothing without loose sleeves or swishy parts to stay safe.
A grease or oil fire can best be extinguished by turning off the heat and suffocating the fire under a close-fitting pot lid -- if you can do that without risk. Keep lids handy especially when frying, the most dangerous of kitchen tasks. For an oven fire, keep the door closed and turn off the heat if you can do so safely. If clothing does catch on fire, remember: stop, drop, and roll.

If you cannot react safely, just get out -- closing the door behind you to contain the fire -- and call the fire department. It is not worth risking injury to save your sustainably renovated kitchen, or even your green Thanksgiving holiday.

Tags: Cooking | Food Safety | Holidays

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