Thanksgiving is almost here, and that means a flurry of shopping, cleaning, food prep, and, of course, cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Administration, Thanksgiving Day had the most cooking fires of any day of the year in 2013. It’s not hard to imagine why. There are a lot of dishes to prepare and a lot of multitasking to do. We’ve got some tips to help you prevent a kitchen fire this Thanksgiving – or any day of the year, really! And avoiding fires means avoiding home insurance claims.
1. Dress for the occasion.
When you’re cooking, it’s best to wear close-fitting clothes that won’t drag or dangle into the heat. If you’ve got long hair, tie it back so that it doesn’t accidentally get singed.
2. Keep your cooking area clear of flammable things.
Move oven mitts, pot holders, towels, papers, plastic wrappers, wooden utensils, and anything else that could catch fire away from your stove. Yes, you might be a bit crowded for space, especially on Thanksgiving, but keep an eye on the area around your stove.
3. Don’t leave cooking food unattended.
Never walk away from something that you’re frying, broiling, or grilling. These things need to be watched closely. If you see smoke or the grease starts to bubble, turn the burner off.
If you’re steaming or boiling something, use timers so that you don’t forget that you’ve got something cooking. Unattended food is the number one cause of kitchen fires, so be sure to check your food frequently. With all the rushing around that comes with Thanksgiving and cooking a huge meal, it’s easy to forget things. It’s completely normal. Just plan ahead for forgetfulness and set timers galore.
4. Clean your cooking surface frequently.
Keep your cooking surfaces clean to prevent grease buildup. It’s hygienic and it will help you avoid starting a kitchen fire.
5. Establish a kid-free zone around the stove.
Your kid-free zone should be three feet around any area that hot food is being prepared or areas that you walk through while carrying hot dishes or pots. It’s generally a good idea to keep kids and pets out of the kitchen while you’re cooking for their safety. Kitchen safety is one of the fundamentals of childproofing your home.
6. Turn pot handles to the back of the stove.
This lowers the chance of a pot getting knocked off the stove and someone getting hurt or burned, or of kids pulling the handle and upending a pot full of hot food or water onto themselves.
7. Don’t put metal in the microwave.
Anything metal should not go in the microwave. Microwaving metal can cause sparks, which means that a fire can soon follow. Yes, this includes tin foil. So, if you have a dish covered with foil that you need to warm up, take the foil off first.
8. Make sure all portable appliances are plugged directly into the wall.
If you plug a portable appliance like a toaster into an extension cord, you could cause the circuit to short. Make sure that all the appliances you’ll need to prepare the meal are plugged into the wall, and unplug them when you’re not using them. This will prevent any accidental mishaps and will also help prevent electrical fires.
9. Consider getting a fire extinguisher.
You might want to consider getting a fire extinguisher for additional fire safety. You can consult with your local fire department to find out which type is best for your home and to get proper training for how to use it.
10. Make sure your smoke detectors are functional.
Do your smoke detectors have fresh batteries? Have you tested them lately? You should have smoke detectors near the kitchen. The sooner you and your family are alerted to a fire, the better.
If you have a kitchen fire…
- If the fire is in a pan or pot, cover the pan with a lid or baking sheet to smother it. If that doesn’t work, use a fire extinguisher or baking soda.
- If it’s a grease or oil fire, DO NOT pour water on it. This will only make the fire worse.
- If the fire is in the microwave, turn the microwave off, unplug it if possible, and wait for the fire to go out. Don’t open the door.
- If the fire is in an oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Wait for the fire to die out.
Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and delicious food. Don’t let a kitchen fire spoil your holiday! By following some simple tips to help prevent a kitchen fire, you’ll be able to ensure that everyone has a happy – and safe – Thanksgiving.
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