The kitchen is the central gathering place in many homes. Unfortunately, the National Fire Protection Association says that during the winter holidays, cooking is the leading cause of house fires.
According to State Farm Insurance, there were an average of 16 cooking fires reported each day in November 2016. On Thanksgiving Day, that number rose to 24. In Louisiana, there weren’t any cooking fires reported on Thanksgiving Day.
There are simple safety tips you can take to prevent a fire.
Cooking Safety Tips
- The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food.
- If you need to leave the stove, even for a second, turn off the stove.
- Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop. Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
Cooking with Oil (NFPA)
Oil or fat is a key ingredient found in the majority of today’s kitchens. Whether a recipe calls for frying or sautéing, we include oil in almost all of our daily cooking. When using any of the many oils to prepare your meals like olive, canola, corn or soybean, consider the following safety tips when cooking:
- Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stovetop.
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
- Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire. If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.
Turkey Fryer Safety Tips
It’s hard to beat the speed of deep-frying a turkey—or the irresistible flavor and juiciness that result. But turkey fryers have the potential to cause fire and serious injury, which is why organizations like Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association advise against using them. NFPA discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. NFPA continues to believe that turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.
- More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors at a safe distance from any buildings or trees and keep the fryer off any wooden structures, such as a deck or patio.
- Avoid a hot oil spill over by first filling the pot with cold oil and then lower the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be either added or removed.
- Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.
- Make sure your turkey is properly thawed before lowering it slowly into the pot.
- Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
- Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.
- Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.
You can find more tips to stay safe during the holiday season at statefarm.com.