MISSOULA – The kitchen is the heart of the home, and that is never truer than on holidays.
Family meals are often the central part of celebrations and preparations for those meals can be an enjoyable activity for the entire family.
But statistics show that cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires in the United States and that Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for cooking fires.
Thanksgiving Day is also the leading day for burn injuries in the home.
Missoula Rural Fire District (MRFD) would like to offer these safety tips to help keep your holidays (and every day) safe and enjoyable in the kitchen:
- Keep a close watch on your cooking. Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Keep food packaging and other combustibles away from burners and heat sources.
- Heat cooking oil slowly and watch it closely; it can ignite quickly.
- Don’t wear loose sleeves while working over hot stove burners – they can melt, ignite or catch on handles of pots and pans spilling hot oil and other liquids.
- Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot foods or drinks are prepared or carried.
- Keep a lid nearby 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 cool.
Deep-fried turkey has become a favorite Thanksgiving tradition in many households but if used improperly, an overloaded fryer can easily tip over and set an entire house ablaze.
MRFD offers the following tips from the United States Fire Administration, for those who plan to deep-fry a turkey for Thanksgiving:
- Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors and a safe distance from buildings or any other flammable materials.
- Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
- Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
- Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
- To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
Thanksgiving is a time of food, fun, and family. As you gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving, MRFD wants you to be safe and enjoy a happy Thanksgiving!