Good evening, everyone!
Thanksgiving is upon us, which means turkey, gravy, stuffing, pies, and kitchen fires... a lot of kitchen fires.
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
-- Cooking equipment is the leading cause of fires in the home, causing 48% of home fires and leading to 21% of the deaths and 45% of the injuries caused by fires in the home.
-- Two-thirds of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
-- Food that's left unattended while cooking is a factor in one-third of all home cooking fires and half of the associated deaths.
-- Finally, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
We certainly hope that our community experiences no fires this holiday season, but just in case, here are some tips for avoiding and handling various types of cooking fires.
Avoiding fires in general
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
- Be alert and do not use the stove if you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol.
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.
- Keep a lid or cookie sheet near the pan you're cooking with so it's accessible if a fire starts.
- Always keep children away from the stove while cooking.
Fighting microwave and oven fires in four easy steps
- Keep the door closed.
- Turn off the appliance (unplug it if you can).
- Let the fire burn out in the enclosed space.
- No peeking!
What you're doing here is starving the fire of oxygen until it goes out. Opening the door before the fire is out will allow it to rekindle.
Fighting stovetop fires in three easy steps
- Always pull out a lid for the pot or pan you're going to be cooking with, or a cookie sheet large enough to completely cover it.
- If a fire starts, cover the flames with the lid or cookie sheet that you have waiting.
- No peeking!
Again, this starves the fire of oxygen, putting it out.
Oil or grease fires
Tips for avoiding these fires
- Heat the oil slowly.
- Keep oil at the recommended temperature. If you see any smoke or the oil smells, it is an indication that it is too hot. Immediately turn off the
burner to let it cool down.
- Remove as much moisture as possible from the food before putting it in hot oil. Do not put frozen foods into hot grease.
- Add food gently to prevent splatter.
Fighting oil or grease fires in six easy steps
- Cover the flames with a metal lid or cookie sheet. To prevent rekindling, leave this on not only until the fire is out but until the pot has
- Turn off the heat source.
- If it's small and manageable, pour baking soda or salt on it to smother the fire. DO NOT use flour, baking powder, or other cooking powders -
they have a different chemical makeup and will make the fire worse.
- Do not try to extinguish the fire with water. This will spatter the oil, spreading the fire.
- If the above methods do not work, spray the fire with a Class B fire extinguisher.
- Do not attempt to move the pot or pan outside. The adrenaline dump caused by the fire will make your hands too shaky to do so safely and you
risk spreading the fire inside your house.
Know when to call for help
Regardless of the size of the fire or whether you believe you can fight it yourself, call 911 immediately. You can always stand the department down if you're able to extinguish the fire before
we get there, and if you're unable to put it out, you want us there as quickly as physically possible. On average, house fires double in size every thirty seconds, and because of all plastics found
in modern homes and furnishings, a house can become fully involved within five minutes. A fully involved fire is one that has spread far enough through the house that it's unsaveable. At that point,
the fire department's only option is to consider the house a loss and fight a defensive battle to prevent the fire from spreading to the surrounding terrain.
In addition, please be aware that, even when a fire can be extinguished by the homeowner, three out of five non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victim tried to fight
the fire themselves. The most common injuries sustained were burns to the hands and lower arms.
If a fire starts in your house (regardless of the origin):
- GET OUT! You and your family members should leave immediately to prevent injury or loss of life. Do not try to be a hero. If the fire is small and
you wish to try to extinguish it, make ONE attempt, and leave at once if your attempt doesn't show immediate success.
- Close the doors as you leave to help contain the fire. Interior doors make a surprisingly effective barrier against fire and slow down its spread,
sometimes even confining damage to the place the fire started. Closing exterior doors and windows limits the amount of oxygen the fire can use for its spread.
- If you didn't call while evacuating, call 911 as soon as you are a safe distance from the fire.
- DO NOT re-enter your home for any reason. Conditions will NOT have improved and you're likely to be injured or killed.
Please stay safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving!