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Bloomington Fire Department Reminds Residents About Holiday Cooking Safety
Updated November 25, 2014 7:02 PM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - The City of Bloomington Fire Department would like to remind residents of safety tips to keep in mind while cooking this holiday season. There is an increased incidence of cooking fires on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, stressing the importance of cooking safety during this time.

Cooking fires continue to be the most common type of fires in U.S. households. One in eight households experiences some type of cooking incident each year, resulting in about 1000 residential fires being reported each day in the U.S. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of fire injuries at home. These fires are preventable by being more attentive to the use of cooking materials and equipment.

Safe Cooking Tips

The kitchen can be one of the most hazardous rooms in the home if safe cooking behaviors are not practiced. Here are some safety tips to help:

Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. Turn off the stove even if leaving the kitchen for a short period of time.

Check food regularly while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to as a reminder that food is cooking.

Stay alert. To prevent cooking fires, one must be alert. People who are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol or have taken medicine that causes drowsiness will not be alert in the case of an accident.

Keep anything that can catch fire -- potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains -- away from the stove-top.

Keep the stove-top, burners and oven clean.

Wear short, close-fitting or tightly-rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire if it comes into contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

Plug microwave ovens and other cooking appliances directly into an outlet. Never use an extension cord for a cooking appliance, as it can overload the circuit and cause a fire.

Know how to turn off the gas and/or electricity to the stove and microwave.

Always keep a fire extinguisher close to the kitchen and make sure it is accessible.

Young children are at high risk from non-fire cooking-related burns. Have a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove.

In the Case of a Cooking Fire

When in doubt, just get out. When leaving, close the door behind to help contain the fire. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after leaving.

If one does try to fight the fire, ensure others are already getting out and there is a clear path to the exit.

Always keep an oven mitt and a lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure to wear the oven mitt). Turn off the burner and do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.

In case of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning people or clothing.
If there is a fire in the microwave oven, turn it off immediately and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Unplug the appliance if the outlet is safely within reach.

After a fire, both ovens and microwaves should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

Use turkey fryers outdoors at a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.

Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.

Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If the fryer is not watched 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 eyes from oil splatter.

Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.

The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.

Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.

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