Thanksgiving is the peak day of the year for kitchen fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Last year, fire departments responded to roughly 1.6 million fires in the U.S. That translates to a residential house fire every 19 seconds, resulting in about $11 billion worth of damage.
“Most kitchen fires involve the kitchen stovetop,” said Northwest Fire District Captain Adam Goldberg. “The majority of the cooking fires occur because of unattended cooking. People are trying to get things done and leave the room with food cooking, thinking they’ll be back in just a minute and then get distracted.”
Northwest firefighters remind us to use extra caution during holidays and offer these tips for safe cooking:
* Use your stovetop as a “cooktop” not a “countertop,” place only appropriate cookware on it. Keep all combustibles, such as potholders and towels, away from the stove.
* Most fires in the kitchen occur because cooking is left unattended. Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.
* If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
* Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a three-foot “kid-free zone” around the stove. Keep pets from underfoot so you do not trip while cooking. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
* Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.
* Always keep a potholder or oven mitt and lid handy. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, put on an oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and don’t remove the lid until it is completely cool.