The holidays are a time to cook, celebrate, and entertain. Yet they’re also a time for accidents and fires, especially in the kitchen. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the top day for home cooking fires followed closely by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas Eve.
Here are 10 kitchen safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association that can help ensure the holiday focus remains on being together – at home – and not inside a hospital emergency room!
10 Important Thanksgiving Kitchen Safety Tips
Test your smoke alarms. The holidays are a good time to make sure smoke alarms are in tip-top working order. (Tip: As annoying as they can be at times when cooking, ignore the urge to remove the battery.)
Don’t forget what’s on the stove! Set reminders, notes, timers. With company arriving at different times and tons of things to do, it’s easy to forget that butter melting on the stove. It’s best to structure your time so you remain in the kitchen when something is on the stovetop. If you must walk away, bring something with you (a string, twist tie, or rubber band around your finger, for example) to remind you to check back frequently.
With hot stoves, make sure children stay at least three feet away.
Try to stay put. Turkeys take hours to cook and certainly, no one wants to sit in the kitchen the whole time. However, the NFPA recommends you don’t leave the house when something is in the oven. (Note: If you must leave, be sure not to leave pets alone when an oven is on.)
Keep the floor area clear so you don’t trip over toys, bags, shoes, etc.
Plug-ins. Take extra precautions with dangling cords from an electric knife, food processor, coffee maker, cell phone, toaster oven, mixer, plate warmer, etc.
Watch those knives! Keep sharp utensils in drawers, out of sight of curious children with roving fingers.
Position handles of pots and pans away – or back – rather than extending out in front. This will prevent walking by and knocking boiling ingredients onto the floor.
Avoid fires. Make sure cloth and paper towels are nowhere near burners.
Crowd control. At holiday time, it’s natural for visiting family and friends to want to help out in the kitchen. The more people in the kitchen, however, the better the chance for distraction and an accident so, depending on the size of the room, try and minimize crowd size.
Slow down! Holidays can be frenetic but rushing around only increases the opportunity for a kitchen mishap. Make lists and plan ahead as much as possible, enlist the help of capable family members in food preparation, and turn this Thanksgiving into the safest one yet.
What To Do If There’s A Small Cooking Fire
While your first instinct might be to take a flaming pot or pan and put it in the sink, it’s not safe. Here are a few tips for a safer way to react:
First, if it’s a large fire get out – yell “fire” so everyone gets out and call 911.
If it’s a small fir,e turn off the heat and then try sliding a lid to smother the fire. Leave the cover on until completely cooled.
Do NOT pour water on it. Water can cause splashes which would burn you and cause the fire to spread.
Baking soda can help put out small grease fires, but you need a lot of it. (Note: Do not use any other baking ingredients. Only BAKING SODA.)
Salt is a great absorber of heat for its volume. A moderate amount – about a cup – can help extinguish a decent size grease fire.
Planning on frying a turkey this year? Be sure you know how it’s done properly to avoid injury!
A Class B Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher is useful especially if the fire is getting out of control.
Beth Herman is a freelance writer with interests in healthy living and food, family, animal welfare, architecture and design, religion, and yoga. She writes for a variety of national and regional publications, institutions, and websites.