Thanksgiving is the leading day for home cooking fires, and many home fires and related injuries are caused by unattended cooking. During the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the State Fire Marshal are reminding citizens to remain attentive in the kitchen.
"Home cooking during the holiday season can be a major concern if important fire safety practices aren't followed," said Jim Greeson, Indiana State fire marshal. "Every holiday season, cooking is a leading cause of home structure fires. It is important for Hoosiers to talk to their families about fire safety and what to do in the event of a fire in their home."
The following are some important safety tips that are applicable year-round, but are especially important during the holiday season.
Stay in the kitchen while cooking food. If there is a need to leave the kitchen even for a short period, turn off the stove.
Regularly check food that is cooking and use a timer to avoid forgetting items.
Keep any flammable objects such as oven mitts, utensils, food packages and towels away from the stovetop.
Use the stove's back burners whenever possible. Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
Clean up food and grease from burners and stovetops, and be sure that the oven is clean and free from residue.
More than half of non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occur when residents try to fight the fire themselves. Below are tips for addressing kitchen fires.
Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
Keep a lid nearby when 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.
In the event of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
If the fire is too large to address safely, evacuate the home and call 911.
When deep-frying a turkey, up to five gallons of oil must be heated before placing the turkey into the device. Tests have shown that some turkey fryers are not sturdy and can easily tip over, allowing hot oil to spill and creating a serious risk of fire or scalding.
When deep-frying a turkey, follow these safety tips:
Cook outside on a level surface several feet away from any building. Never use turkey fryers on wooden desks, balconies or inside garages.
Don't overfill the fryer with oil. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine the proper amount of oil to use.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry before placing it in the fryer. A partially frozen turkey can cause a fiery reaction.
Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls and the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching the pot or lid holders. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect eyes from oil splatter.
When finished cooking, allow oil to completely cool before disposing.
"The holiday season is also an important time to make sure households have working smoke alarms on all levels of the home, including the basement and outside of every sleeping area," Greeson said. "Smoke alarms save lives, giving occupants the much needed time to escape in the event of a fire."
For more information about fire safety in the home, visit GetPrepared.in.gov.