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For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home especially during the holidays. Family and friends gather to prepare flavorful dishes that have been passed around from generation to generation. With all the chaos and distractions, it is no surprise that Thanksgiving is peak day for home cooking fires.

Each year, anywhere from 3 to 4 times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as on a typical day. This annual spike can largely be attributed to people cooking multiple dishes at once, along with all the other distractions that can make it easy to lose sight of what is cooking on the stove and in the oven. Year after year, cooking is the leading cause (49 percent) of U.S. home fires, with unattended cooking being the leading cause.

Below are some tips and recommendations to help keep you and your family safe while you are preparing that perfect Thanksgiving Meal:

  • 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.
  • When cooking a turkey, remain at home and check it regularly.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains, away from your stovetop.
  • Make use of timers to keep track or cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.
  • Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that can come in contact with a heat source.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Don not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time and never throw water on the fire.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you are confident the fire is completely out. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.
  • Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove and oven.
  • Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.
  • Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sautéing.
  • Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.

All of us at the Gerloff Company wish you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Until next time my friends, be prepared and stay safe.

Reference: National Fire Protection Association and “Reduce the risk of home fire in your community this Thanksgiving, the leading date of the year for home cooking fires” by Susan McKelvey