Articles Posted in Thanksgiving Safety

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and that means family and friends coming together to enjoy food and one another’s company. It is also the leading day for U.S. home cooking fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s latest “Home Fire Involving Cooking Equipment” report, nearly four times as many home cooking fires occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 2015 as on any other typical day of the year. The day before Thanksgiving represents the second-leading day for home cooking fires.

Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 170,200 home structure fires involving cooking equipment, which resulted in 510 fire-related deaths, 5,470 fire-related injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Unattended cooking is, by far, the top contributing factor in home cooking fires and fire-related fatalities.

Between 2011 and 2015, cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fire incidents. Cooking fires caused 20 percent of home fire deaths, and accounted for 45 percent of the reported home fire injuries.

It is very easy to get distracted at Thanksgiving due to the fact that most people are cooking multiple dishes and trying to entertain guests. You may easily be prompted to walk away from the kitchen or forget something is cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. However, just one simple mistake can increase the likelihood of a cooking fire.

Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to greatly reduce the risk of cooking fires on Thanksgiving and beyond. The following are NFPA tips and recommendations for cooking safely:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking to keep a close eye on the food, especially when frying with oil.
  • Use a timer to keep track of cooking times. Check the stove or oven frequently. Consider putting timers in different rooms so that you can hear them over music, football games, and party chatter.
  • Stay alert and focused when cooking. To help minimize the risk of injury, avoid cooking when drinking alcohol or if you’re tired.
  • Keep things that can easily catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area.
  • Kids should stay 3 feet away from stovetops, as well as from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, or gravy could cause serious burns.
  • Frying turkeys at Thanksgiving has become increasingly popular. However, NFPA discourages the use of turkey fryers, as they can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property due to the extensive amount of hot oil used with fryers. If you prefer fried turkey, check out your local grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants that sell deep fried turkeys.

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It is that time of year again and the Thanksgiving holiday is almost here! The focus on this holiday tends to be food and family, so it is important to bring up some cooking safety tips so that you can make sure your Thanksgiving meal goes off without a hitch.

The Thanksgiving holiday sees more residential fire deaths, injuries and property damage than any other day of the year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 1,300 cooking fires were reported on Thanksgiving Day from 2009 to 2011, which is more than triple the average daily rate of about 400 cooking fires.

Thanksgiving dinner betch.jpgFortunately, with good planning and solid lines of communication between all the chefs in the family, these fires can ultimately be prevented. The following tips can help to keep your holiday safe:

• Stand by your pan! You should never leave food that is cooking unattended. In case you need to walk away from your dish, turn the stove off or ask someone else to watch the food.

• Check your smoke alarms. What good is a smoke alarm if it does not work? Make sure you have properly working smoke alarms in your kitchen.

• Keep away from candles. It is best to avoid using these, especially if young children are around.

• Keep flammable objects away from the stovetop. This includes, oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels and other kitchen aides.

• Use a timer. This will remind you when dishes are done and when you can stop cooking.

• Keep electrical cords away from children. If you have electric appliances make sure cords are not left dangling in front of or near a child that can easily grab it.

• Keep children out of the kitchen until food has had time to cool. When food, such as vegetables and gravies, is too hot, serious skin burns can be caused to those that touch it.

Should a cooking fire arise in your household, follow these steps:

• In the event of a cooking fire, call 911, get everyone outdoors to safety and wait for the fire department to arrive.

• Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen just in case a fire ignites. Make sure the fire extinguisher is in working condition and is properly charged.

• If an oven fire breaks out in your kitchen, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

• For small grease fires, it is best to smother the flames by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stove top. Keep the lid on the pan until it has cooled. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire as this could leave you with some serious burn injuries.

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many Floridians have opted to try a new spin on the holiday staple – deep fried turkey. While the results can be delicious, deep frying can also be quite dangerous. In fact, the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers require turkeys to be immersed in a large quantity of cooking oil at extremely high temperatures, which can ultimately release hot oil during the cooking process that can leave you and your neighbors, guests and loved ones with devastating burns and catastrophic injuries as well as put your home at risk for property damage.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving Day yields the highest number of cooking fires in the United States. Cooking fires are also the number one cause of home fires that cause an annual average of 390 deaths, 4,800 injuries and $771 million in property damage. With that said, the NFPA also reports that deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage every year.

As turkey frying peaks more and more interests, the number of fryer-related injuries and fires are on the rise. According to State Farm Insurance claims data from 2005-2010, the state of Florida ranks seventh in the top 10 states for Thanksgiving Day cooking fires. The other nine states with the most turkey fire-related insurance claims include Texas, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Louisiana.

To reduce the risk of deep fried disasters this holiday, follow these safety tips:

1. Avoid Filling Your Pot With Excess Oil – When a fryer contains too much oil, the odds the oil will spill out of the pot when the turkey is submerged is high. If the oil makes contact with a burner a major fire can arise. Read and follow all instructions with your cooking pot or fryer and make sure oil does not exceed the proper level.

2. Properly Thaw Your Turkey Before Dropping It Into the Oil – Placing a frozen or partially frozen turkey into a fryer can cause the hot oil to spill, which can result in a significant fire or burn injury. Do not thaw your turkey by using water, instead wait the proper amount of time until your turkey is fully thawed and then slowly release it into the pot so that splashing and spills are avoided.

3. Place Your Turkey Fryer On A Level Surface – Many fryer fires start on a structure or deck, so make sure you place your outdoor fryer on a firm and non-combustible surface. It is best to keep the fryer off of wooden surfaces and a safe distance away from buildings. Because many fryers are top-heavy it is essential to keep them on a level surface so that they do not tip over.

4. Don’t Leave Your Fryer Unattended – Remember that when you fry a turkey you are using grease or oil that is combustible, so do not walk away from a hot fryer. There are fryers that do not have thermostat controls and if unattended, the oil could ignite from extreme temperatures.

Should a cooking fire arise…
1. Get yourself and your loved ones away from the fire immediately. If the fire is in the house, closing the door behind you once you are outside may help to contain the fire.

2. Call 911 as soon as you can.

3. If you try to extinguish the fire, do not use ice or water. It is best to have an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires nearby should an emergency erupt.

4. Small grease fires can be contained by having a lid nearby when cooking that can smother grease fires. By placing the lid over the pan and turning the stovetop off, the fire can be smothered easily. The pan should remain covered until it is thoroughly cooled.

5. If an oven fire should arise, keep the oven door shut and turn the heat completely off.

Due to the risks of severe property damage and serious bodily injuries associated with frying turkeys, the NFPA advises that for those craving fried turkey this holiday season to purchase one already fried from a local specialty food or grocery store. No matter how you choose to prepare your turkey this year, the Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton, LLC advise you to exercise extreme caution and wish you and your loved ones a safe holiday season.

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