Cooking fires increase around holidays

Published 5:37 pm Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cooking fires have been proven to increase around the holidays, so fire departments urge caution when preparing holiday dinners.

Thanksgiving remains the leading day for cooking fires with three times as many cooking fires as an average day, according to statistics by the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

On Thanksgiving 2008, U. S. fire departments responded to 1,300 home cooking fires, compared to 420 such fires on an average day.

“We go on numerous calls for stove fires at no particular time of the year,” said Clanton’s Fire Chief David Driver. “In the past year, we had a total of nine stove fires.  These are cooking fires that are confined to the stove or cooking container with no fire extension to other parts of the residence.”

The main thing is to not leave anything cooking unattended and make sure there are no children around the stove, Driver said.

According to the NFPA and the Alabama State Fire Marshal Office (ASFMO), America’s fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 154,700 home structure fires involving cooking equipment from 2004 to 2008. These fires caused an average of 460 civilian deaths, 4,850 reported civilian fire injuries and $724 million in direct property damage.

Unattended cooking continues to be to be the leading contributing factor in cooking equipment factors, according to the NFPA and the ASFMO.

Despite the numerous cases, there have been no fatalities as a result of cooking fires in Clanton.

Here are some safety measures to take while cooking, offered by the ASFMO, NFPA and Driver.

-Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

-Use appliances how they are supposed to be used according to the manufacturer. If it is for outside cooking use only, then use it outside to prevent possible danger.

-Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the area for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

-If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

-Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

Listed are some emergency tips in case a fire occurs:

-Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

-Call 9-1-1 and report the fire after you leave.

-If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

-Do not use water on stove fires. Use baking soda or flour to smother the flames.

-Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

-For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.