TRUMBULL, CONN. – With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, Trumbull fire officials are offering folks tips for keeping the holiday cooking season safe and happy.
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries.
In 2013, Thanksgiving was the peak day for home cooking fires, with 230 percent more fires than occur on the average day, the association said.
Christmas and Christmas Eve were the second and third biggest home fire days with 58 and 54 percent more fires respectively than average.
“As the heart of the home, the kitchen can quickly become a very active and chaotic space when you’re planning a family feast,” said Chief Doug Bogen of the Long Hill Fire Department in Trumbull.
It’s very easy for the cooks to “get distracted by people coming in and out of the kitchen, tasting dishes, and offering assistance with preparations,” he said.
Unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths in 2013. Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and the third leading cause of home fire deaths, fire officials said.
To avoid a cooking fire take these steps:
- Stay alert. If you are sleepy or have been drinking 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.
- Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove.
- Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children -- up high in a locked cabinet.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old and working. Check the date of manufacture and test them by pushing the test button.
If you have a cooking fire do the following:
- 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.
- In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
The NFPA’s website shares these 2009-13 averages:
Deep frying poses the greatest risk of fire.
Turkey fryers are especially dangerous if not used properly.
The NFPA says deep fryer fires result in more than $15 million in property damage each year.
Hot oil spatter can cause serious burns to adults and life-threatening injuries to children, the NFPA says.