It may sound like a Tammy Wynette song gone wrong, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging holiday cooks to “stand by your pan” this Thanksgiving.
Kitchen fires typically triple on Turkey Day. The primary reason is unattended stoves while cooking. From 2009 through 2011, there were about 1,300 kitchen fires on Thanksgiving Day – more than three times the average number of about 400 on all other days of the year, according to the federal agency.
Overall, cooking fires account for more than 40 percent of unintended house fires and cause nearly 3,500 injuries each year.
Each year between 2009 and 2011, there were (approximately):
- 362,000 unintentional house fires
- 150,000 fires related to cooking
- 2,260 home fire-related deaths
- 12,820 injuries
- $7 billion in property damage caused by house fires
Fortunately, most house fires can be easily prevented. Toward that end, here are some safety tips provided by the CPSC and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
- Stand by your pan. Whether you are grilling, broiling or frying food, stay in the kitchen.
- Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes or long sleeves near ovens and ranges.
- Closely supervise children.
- Turn the handles of pans toward the back of the stove so children and others won’t spill scalding food or liquids on themselves.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
- In the event of a fire, snuff out the fire by putting a lid on the pan. Do not try to douse a fire with water or flour or attempt to remove the pan from the burner, all of which could make the situation worse. Call 911.
- Only use turkey fryers outside and away from your home, never on the porch or in the garage (there’s been a big increase in the number of turkey fryer fires in recent years).
- Make sure smoke alarms are installed and in good working order (having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a house fire by 50%).
- Change batteries in smoke detectors at least yearly and test them to make sure they work.
- Install more than one alarm in your home, including on every level and outside every sleeping area.
- Make sure your family has a fire escape plan, which should include two ways out of each room if possible and a meeting place outside. Have a fire drill to make sure everyone is clear on the plan.
Following these tips and using good common sense when it comes to safety should go a long ways toward ensuring your Thanksgiving is a fun, festive, happy occasion for your family.