Archive for Friday, November 18, 2011

Kitchen safety tips for the holidays

November 18, 2011

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The holidays are filled with warmth, but sometimes things can get dangerously hot in the kitchen.

Cooking fires are one of the most common fires in our homes, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. So it should come as no surprise that fire departments see an increase in cooking fires around Thanksgiving and Christmas. At particular risk are the children who scamper in and out of a bustling kitchen.

Here are tips to keep your family safe and your turkey well-roasted:

Avoiding a cooking a fire

  • If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, don’t leave the kitchen without turning off the stove.
  • For food that is simmering, baking, roasting or boiling, make sure to check it regularly and don’t leave the house while it’s cooking. Be sure to use a timer as a reminder to check the food.
  • Whenever possible, use back burners on the stove, turn handles toward the back of the stove and keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables. According to Safe Kids Kansas, scalding burns from hot liquids or steam are the most common type of burns among children age 4 and under. Children have thinner skin than adults, so they can burn more severely and at lower temperatures.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stove. That includes pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and curtains. Also, don’t wear loose-fitting clothes that can dangle over stove burners and can catch fire.

What to do if you have a fire

  • If it’s a small grease fire and you have an oven mitt and lid nearby, smother the flames in the pan by sliding the lid over it. Turn off the burner, and don’t move the pan. Leave the lid on the pan until it has cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn the heat off and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothes.
  • For a microwave oven fire, turn it off immediately, keep the door closed and unplug the appliance if you can reach it safely. Keep the door closed until the fire is out.
  • When in doubt, get out, is what the U.S. Fire Administration advises for any fire in the kitchen. If you leave, close the door behind you and call 911. If you decide to stay and fight the fire, make sure others are already out and you have a clear exit path.

Safety around turkey fryers

  • Before you use a turkey fryer, make sure to read instructions. Many accidents involving turkey fryers are from first-time users, Lawrence Fire Chief Mark Bradford said.
  • Make sure to use a turkey fryer outside and at a safe distance from buildings or any other combustible material. Also, don’t use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck. Be sure it is on a flat surface.
  • Don’t leave the fryer unattended. Most units don’t have thermostat controls, so if you don’t watch it the oil could continue to heat until it catches on fire.
  • To keep oil from spilling over, which can cause fires if the oil hits the burner, never overfill the fryer. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed and be cautious of marinades. Water can cause the oil to spill over.
  • Never use water to put out a grease fire. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.

Sources: U.S. Fire Administration, city of Lawrence and Safe Kids Kansas.

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