The Hazards of Holiday Cooking

The holidays and all the chaos that comes with them once again loom on the horizon. Soon our brains will be overwhelmed by an onslaught of holiday commercials, the stress of shopping for gifts, and the hecticness of family gatherings.

One piece of information we hope isn’t lost in the hubbub is that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. Keep that in mind as your kitchen becomes Mission Control as you prepare food for friends and family.

What you should know about home cooking safety

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stove top.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stove top.

If you have a cooking fire

  • 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 try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Cooking equipment is leading cause of home fires
Stoves account for the majority of home cooking fire accidents
  • Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home fires and fire injuries, causing 47% of home fires
  • 66% of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials
  • Stoves account for 62% of home cooking fire incidents
  • Unattended equipment is a factor in 33% of reported home cooking fires and 43% of the associated deaths
  • Frying dominates the cooking fire problem
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve
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