‘Tis the season for a full house and a full kitchen. You’re probably extra excited (or stressed) to have family and friends over for the holidays this year, after likely settling for holiday Zoom calls last year.
The holiday season means extra food, extra drinks, and extra bodies in the kitchen. Things can quickly get tough to manage, which is why Thanksgiving is typically the peak day for home cooking fires across North America, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. At the same time, cooking equipment accounts for 1 in every 5 (19%) home decoration fires.
Don’t let a cooking fire ruin your meal or your holidays! Always follow these steps to ensure that everything is safe and under control.
Something on the range or cooktop? Watch it!
Ranges/ cooktops were involved in 61% of home cooking fires. They were also involved in 87% of cooking fire deaths and 78% of cooking fire injuries.
The #1 cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. There will be a lot going on, and a lot of distractions. However, you need to ensure that your meal is under constant supervision. If you have to leave the kitchen (even for a second or minute) to answer the door or something, turn off your stove or ask someone to watch things for you.
Manage Your Space
Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop. This includes often-singed items like:
- Oven mitts,
- Wooden utensils
- Food packaging
Many of us have little burn marks on some of those items that can serve as a reminder as to why we need to be careful.
Experts also recommend keeping a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 metre) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried. Of course, we know that is much easier than it sounds. In any case, it’s just best to keep the number of people in the kitchen to a bare minimum when cooking.
And, of course, always ensure that you have a certified and functional fire extinguisher accessible at all times.
Use Turkey Deep Fryers Safely
Turkey deep fryers get their own section in this blog. They have really caught on in recent years because of how quickly they can cook up a delicious turkey. However, it’s important to know that they can become dangerous even faster.
Anyone that wants to see how quickly things can escalate simply needs to go to YouTube and search “turkey fryer fails.” Some of these videos are absolutely terrifying.
According to the NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires involving deep fryers each year, resulting in:
- An average of five deaths
- 60 injuries
- 900 homes being destroyed
- Over $15 million in property damage
To ensure that everyone is safe, be sure to follow these 10 tips:
First and foremost, never try to fry a frozen turkey. Ever. Never-ever!
Keep a functional fire extinguisher handy at all times.
- Fryers should only be used outdoors and never on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage, or any type of enclosure.
- Ensure your fryer is a level and sturdy surface, a safe distance away from anything that can catch fire.
- Stay present and watch your turkey the entire time.
- Check your recipe and fryer guidelines carefully to measure the amount of oil needed. Any sort of overflow or displacement is incredibly dangerous.
- Keep kids and pets away from the fryer while you cook. Also, know that the oil will remain hot for several hours afterwards, and they still need to keep a safe distance well after the fact.
- Use oil with a high smoke point, such as olive oil or rapeseed oil.
- Use very well insulated mitts.
- Be very mindful of the temperature of your oil. Keep it to 160°C for low, 180°C for moderate and 190°C for high. Don’t go any higher than 190.
Stay present, stay aware and stay safe! Follow these tips and you can ensure that everyone will have a happy and healthy holiday season.