Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 7:37am
The number of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day was three times the national average of fires per day in 2009, according the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The City of Madison Fire Department is joining the NFPA in urging the public to keep fire safety in mind when preparing holiday meals.
Thanksgiving mixes a variety of cooking styles and techniques with a multitude of distractions. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking equipment fires. Ranges or cook tops were involved in the majority (59%) of home cooking fire incidents; ovens accounted for 16%. Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.
The growing use of turkey fryers have increased the potential for fires and burns.
To reduce the risk of cooking fires this holiday, the MFD recommends the following safety tips:
1. Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.
2. Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
3. When 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 are cooking.
4. Stay alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove or stovetop.
If you have a cooking fire…
1. Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
2. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
3. If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path (to your way out of the home and someone has called the fire department).
4. Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
5. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Outdoor fryers heat gallons of cooking oil to very high temperatures to cook the turkey. The risk of this oil being spilled is significant, and the injuries resulting can be severe.
•The fryers are often bumped or tipped over when the turkey is put in or taken out, presenting a greater risk for the oil to splash or spill. Outdoor fryers that come with a stand pose the greatest risk of tipping.
•The oil is heated to such a high temperature for frying that the vapors could ignite, resulting in a fire.
•If you use a turkey fryer during rain or snow, the risk of injury is increased. When rain or snow hits the hot oil, the oil can splash or turn to steam, which can cause burns.
•Numerous fires have ignited when fryers were moved indoors or into a garage to keep the appliance out of the rain.
•Moving the turkey from the fryer to a serving plate presents another chance of contact with hot oil.
•Turkeys that are not completely thawed may cause the oil to splash, which can cause burns.
- Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947