Cherry Hill Fire Marshal offers Thanksgiving safety tips
Cooking fires continue to be the most common type of fires experienced by American households. This is even more apparent during the holidays.
There is an increased incidence of cooking fires on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of civilian fire injuries in residences.
These fires are preventable by simply being more attentive to the use of cooking materials and equipment.
Don’t become a cooking fire casualty.
Safe Cooking Tips
The kitchen can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the home if you don’t practice safe cooking behaviors.
Here are some safety tips to help:
•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 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.
• 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.
• Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.
If you have a cooking fire:
• When in doubt, just get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 9–1–1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
•If you do try to fight the fire, be sure others are already getting out and you have a clear path to the exit.
•Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner.
Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
•In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing.
•If you have a fire in your microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if you can safely reach the outlet.
•After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.
Turkey Fryer Safety Tips
• Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
• Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
• Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
• Never leave the fryer unattended.
Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
• Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
• To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
• Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
• The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.
Tom Shemeley is the Cherry Hill Fire Department Fire Marshal. He can be reached at TShemeley@chfd.org.