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Fire hazards increase during holiday cooking PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 08:25

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



Those holiday meals will be hitting the oven soon all over and the Liberal Fire Department wants to be sure everyone stays safe during the prep time. 

“Home cooking fires are the leading cause of fires in the home and most of the time that's due to unattended cooking,” Fire Marshal Cody Regier said. “Any time you're cooking you need to be in the house and watch everything frequently, check on everything you're cooking frequently. If you're going to be frying the turkey, make sure that's not going to be done in the home or in the garage, that needs to be done outside away from the home – the NFPA, the National Safety Council, they all advise that to take place at least 10 feet away from a structure when cooking to prevent large grease fires. But the main thing is to just pay attention to what you're doing and don't leave anything unsupervised.”

Indeed, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas and Christmas Eve, and in 2015 alone, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving. 

“Most cooking fires, it's almost always due to unattended cooking, like someone will put something in the oven and then run to the store because they forgot something they needed so they just leave whatever's in the stove in there and then run off,” Regier said. “The past few years, frying turkeys has become more popular and a lot of the problem there is people don't get the turkey quite thawed out well enough or dry it out well enough, and water and hot grease don't mix well.”

With the fryers, the National Safety Council noted the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 168 turkey fryer-related fires, burns, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002. While the Council discourages the use of the fryers, precautions including setting the fryer up more than 10 feet away from the home, keeping the fryer on a flat and stable surface and having a fire extinguisher on hand at all times should be taken. 

Regier said it is the increased food preparation for the holidays and family get-togethers that causes this time of year to be a peak for home cooking fires. 

“Probably the biggest reason we see a peak in these types of calls is because around Thanksgiving and Christmas is when a lot of people are getting together more with family and loved ones and do more cooking in the kitchen than normal,” Regier said. “Typically at other points in the year it's a quick meal in the kitchen and just heating something up, whereas this is an all-day cooking type of event.”

The NFPA also offered many other safety tips, including being sure to stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stove top and keeping an eye on the food, staying in the home when cooking and checking in on the cooking food frequently, keeping children away from the stove, and making sure children stay away from hot food and liquids as the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns. Should an emergency situation arise, Regier said it is important to contact the fire department. 

“If it doesn't look safe, get on the phone right away and call the fire department and get them on the way,” Regier said. “If you can get the stove or oven turned off safely, still get the fire department to come, we can help diagnose what the problem was or we can assist in getting the smoke out of the house. Just react quickly and safely and get the fire department out as quickly as possible.”

Overall, Regier said the department wants everyone to have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. 

“Just have a safe Thanksgiving, don't leave anything unattended while it's cooking, and it'd be a good time around now to check the smoke detectors and make sure they're working,” Regier said. 

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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