by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York
Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires throughout the country. With firefighters responding to three times as many emergencies during Thanksgiving, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York is providing the following safety guidelines to ensure New Yorkers have a safe holiday.
"At a time when families and friends should be enjoying the holiday, we often see tragedies unfold due to unsafe cooking practices," said FASNY President James Burns. "These guidelines, if followed correctly, will ensure a safe Thanksgiving."
The most common factors in home cooking fires and ways to avoid them:
•Unattended cooking, the leading cause of fires in the kitchen - Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking, as guests, phones, children, pets and other activity can easily distract a cook.
•Objects near the cooking catching fire - Clothing ignitions lead to approximately 16 percent of home cooking fire deaths. It is important to wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves, as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners or gas flames and catch fire. Keep the cooking area clean and combustible materials away from your stovetop. Built-up grease as well as oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, towels, curtains and other materials on or near the stove can catch fire.
•Cooking equipment unintentionally turned on or not turned off - Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove or stovetop. Have children turned the stove on?
•Deep-frying turkeys - Turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in cooking oil at high temperatures pose a significant danger of hot oil being released or spilled during cooking, leading to devastating burns, other injuries and property destruction.
•Hot cooking oil exposed to water or outdoor elements - If rain or snow strikes hot cooking oil in propane-fired turkey fryers designed for outdoor use, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the precipitation to steam, which can lead to burns. Frozen and defrosting turkeys also create the risk of contact between water and hot cooking oil, which can cause severe scalding or other serious injury.
FASNY's recommendation to those who insist upon fried turkey for Thanksgiving: Cooking it yourself should be considered a fire hazard. Obtain it from professional food providers who are experienced in this specialty preparation.
If you do have a cooking fire:
•Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
•Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
•If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
•For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
•Do not use water to put out a grease fire. Use an appropriate fire extinguisher, or baking soda, salt or a tight lid. Keep the lid nearby when you're cooking, to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. Always keep a box of baking soda near the stove.
The National Fire Protection Association's website, www.nfpa.org, has additional safety tips and statistics.