Unattended cooking a leading contributor to holiday fires

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Here’s what happens when water is thrown on a grease fire. If you don’t have a dry powder extinguisher, take a lid and slide it across the burning pot. (Submitted photo/Felton Community Fire Co.)

FELTON – With the busiest holiday fast approaching, people are making plans to prepare for the “Super Bowl of Feasts” — the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

A lot of focus and time will be placed into preparing this important meal, but as important as this meal may be, so is the importance of safety during the holiday season.

In 2013 The National Fire Protection Association recorded 1,550 fires happened in the home throughout the United States, on Thanksgiving Day.

When averaged between the 50 states, that is 31 fires for each state that day alone.

You are more likely to suffer a fire in the home at Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — more than any other day of the year. In all cases, unattended cooking was the leading contributing factor in these cooking fires.

Cooking equipment was also responsible for civilian injuries as well as the third leading cause of fire deaths in the United States during 2013.

If you are preparing your meals by stove top oven, make sure to stay in the kitchen and attend to the food preparation as instructed. If the instructions indicate you stir your item, then stir it as directed, often checking the item.

Do not go out of your home while you are cooking. Many people have walked away from their stoves and ovens just to be away for a minute, only to find a fire has started in the kitchen because food was left unattended.

Keep children and pets away from the stove and oven. Items on the stove or oven are hot, with steam and splashes from the stove causing serious burns

Also keep your lighters and matches out of the reach of children and never leave a child unattended with a candle.

Keep oven mitts, wooden utensils and plastics away from open flames.Purchase and become familiar with the proper fire extinguisher to use for kitchen fires.

In this case you would want a type “B” extinguisher which is a dry powder extinguisher. Remember for kitchen fires, especially those involving grease, water is taboo for trying to extinguish grease fires.

If you chose to fight a small grease fire with a type-B extinguisher, make sure it is a extinguisher designed for those types of fires.

Using a water extinguisher or water on a small grease fire, not only is wrong, but can quickly lead to fire spreading and may cause injuries.

If you don’t have an extinguisher, take a lid and slide it across the burning pot.

But most importantly, never delay calling the fire department for any reason.

You only have a few seconds to react.

Remember, small fires can be contained if you keep calm and can safely extinguisher the fire without injuring you or others.

If you have to get out, then get out and close the door behind you (do not lock the door) and stay out, Call the fire department from a cell phone or neighbors phone, but do not stay inside your home to report the fire.

Also test your smoke alarms on a regular basis, like the first or last day of every month and keep a fresh set of batteries around in the event you need to replace the old ones.

If you would like additional information about this subject or fire safety please contact your local fire department.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Eugene Tucker is public information officer for the Felton Community Fire Co.

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