SARASOTA COUNTY – On Thanksgiving Day, home cooking fires are likely to occur more than three times the daily average than any other day of the year, so the Sarasota County Fire Department is urging to the community to keep safety in mind during the holidays.
According to Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier, cooking fires are the primary cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Hundreds of Americans are killed each year due to home cooking fires and thousands more are injured. Cooking fires also cause roughly half a billion dollars in direct property damage to the homes and the belongings inside, Regnier said.
“It can be easy to get wrapped up in entertaining guests, but it is important to remember to stay in the kitchen and monitor meal preparation closely, as most cooking fires start because cooking has been left unattended,” Regnier added.
The community is also urged to use an abundance of caution while operating turkey fryers, which should always used outside on a non-flammable surface.
Sarasota County Fire Marshal John Reed said that tests have shown a number of turkey fryers – which use up to five gallons of heated oil – are not sturdy and can easily tip over and spill the oil. This creates a serious risk of fire or burns, according to Reed.
“There also have been reports of turkey fryers overheating, which can also lead to hot oil spilling or splattering outside the fryer leading to dangerous fires, serious injuries, and property loss,” Reed said.
Sarasota County Fire Department is offering these tips for safer cooking:
Stand by your pan
- Stay in the kitchen when you are boiling, frying, grilling, or broiling food.
- If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while the food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
- Keep in mind that you should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.
No kids allowed
- Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a kid-free zone of three feet (one meter) around the stove.
- If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible, and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots with hot contents will be knocked over.
- Never hold a small child while cooking.
Keep it clean
- Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stove top.
- Clean up food and grease from burners, the stove top and the oven.
It is also recommended that all residences have a fire extinguisher. However, if you should experience an oven or stove top fire do not panic and follow these tips:
- Oven fire: Keep oven door closed and turn the oven off. Opening the oven door allows oxygen to enter and the fire to flare up. Make sure the flames have completely gone out before opening the oven.
- Stove top fire: Never use water or try to “beat” the fire out with a towel. Turn the stove off, if you can do so safely. If the fire is inside a pan, try to put a lid or nonflammable cover on the pan to smoother the fire. Do not try to remove the pan from the stove. Doing so can cause serious burns or the spreading of the fire. In the event that the fire cannot be controlled as above, an approved fire extinguisher should be used. If the fire cannot be safety extinguished call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on keeping your family safe for the holidays, call the Sarasota County Fire Prevention Office at 941-861-2290 or visit www.scgov.net.
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