Holiday hazards found in kitchen, firefighters warnAs stovetops and ovens prepare to go into overdrive with the holidays approaching, local public safety officials urged caution in the kitchen.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
As stovetops and ovens prepare to go into overdrive with the holidays approaching, local public safety officials urged caution in the kitchen.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fire incidents spike during Thanksgiving and Christmastime.
Woodbury firefighter and EMS worker Russ Hawkinson said the department has responded to six such fires over the past two years.
He said the best precaution cooks can take is to be mindful of their surroundings.
“Don’t walk away from the stove,” he said.
Fire administration officials recommend that if you must leave the area while frying, roasting or boiling food, the safest precaution is to turn the stove off. They also recommend keeping kitchen items like potholders, oven mitts and wooden utensils – or anything else that could catch flame – away from the stovetop.
Most kitchen fires stem from overheated cooking oil, Hawkinson said – and those are fires that have the potential to get out of control if not dealt with properly.
Hawkinson recommended keeping a lid near the stovetop in the event of a flare-up involving oil. That way, you can quickly cover the fire before moving the pan to a cooler surface on the stove.
And never, ever use water while attempting to snuff out a grease fire, he reminded.
“It’s like throwing gasoline on it,” Hawkinson said.
If not handled quickly, stovetop fires have the potential to spread quickly. Hawkinson said it’s common to see cupboards destroyed by fire from cooking accidents. That usually leaves extensive smoke damage throughout homes, he added.
“Usually it’s pretty big, between the structure and the content they lose,” he said. “It ends up being pretty costly.”
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the U.S. Fire Administration offers the following safety tips for frying turkeys:
• Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
• Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
• Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
• Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.