Cook Safely This Holiday Season

Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen | photo and post by Larry Clinton

FHA Emergency Services Chair Flo Hoylman passes along these tips for kitchen safety, especially during the busy holiday season.

According to the National Fire Protection Association®, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen. Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.

Before you serve a meal, it’s essential to serve up fire safety in the kitchen. There’s nothing like spending time in the kitchen cooking a delicious meal for family and friends or an appetizing treat for yourself. But do you know the important steps to take long before anyone takes the first bite?

Cook with caution:

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire—oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains—away from your stovetop.
  • A scald injury can happen at any age. Children, older adults and people with disabilities are especially at risk. Hot liquids from bath water, hot coffee and even microwaved soup can cause devastating injuries.
  • With busy lives, families rely on the microwave oven as a quick way to heat up a meal, warm up a drink or defrost dinner. While the convenience of the microwave oven is something we take for granted, safety should not be.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button

If you have any doubts about fighting a small kitchen fire, here is what to do:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.

As shown at the recent fire drill on West Pier, the hoses on our docks are not there to extinguish fires, but to help keep a fire from spreading down the dock. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen that has been recently checked or refilled. The FHA sponsors fire extinguisher refill events a couple of times each year; watch the Floating Times for an announcement of the next opportunity to get yours checked and refilled.