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 FireKeep 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.
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.