With Thanksgiving upon us, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker is reminding Oregonians to keep fire safety front and center when cooking and preparing holiday meals.
“When friends and family gather at this festive time of year, it shouldn’t be marred by tragedy,” says Walker. “By following a few fire prevention tips, you can keep yourself and loved ones safe.”
From 2010 through 2014, there were more than 3,900 cooking-related fires in Oregon causing seven deaths, 232 injuries, and more than $35 million in property loss.
Cooking safety tips:
- Keep a close eye on your cooking; never leave cooking food unattended. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove or set a timer.
- Keep your cooking area clean, including stovetop, burners, oven, and exhaust fan.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, dishtowels, and food packaging away from your stovetop.
- Wear clothing that will not dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
- Keep pot and pan handles turned inward on the stove to avoid bumping them and spilling hot foods.
- Heat cooking oil slowly and never leave it unattended.
- Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot foods or drinks are prepared or carried.
If you have a cooking fire:
- Always keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires. Smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and don’t move the pan until it is completely cool.
- Never pour water on a grease fire; it can splatter the grease and spread the fire.
- In the event of a fire in your oven or microwave, turn them off and keep the doors closed.
- When in doubt, get out! Call 9-1-1 after you leave.
Make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in every bedroom. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace them if they are 10 years old or older.
Turkey fryers: use extreme caution
The OSFM agrees with the National Fire Protection Association in discouraging the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that cook the turkey in hot oil. The use of deep fat turkey fryers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property.
However, we also recognize some families choose this method to prepare their turkey. If you use a fryer, the OSFM urges you to use extreme caution.
“If you’re cooking your turkey in a deep fat fryer, always do it outdoors a safe distance from buildings, deck railings, and any other flammable material, and never leave it unattended,” advises Walker. “Hot oil is extremely dangerous, so never use turkey fryers on a wooden deck or in your garage.”
More turkey fryer safety tips:
- Lower and raise food slowly to reduce splatter and prevent burns.
- Cover bare skin when adding or
- removing food from the fryer.
- Make sure to have at least two feet of space between the propane tank and the fryer burner.
- If the oil begins to smoke, immediately turn the fryer gas supply off and leave the pot uncovered to cool.
For more information on cooking safety, visit www.oregon.gov/osp/SFM/Pages/ kitchen-safety.aspx.