Tips to keep your home safe while cooking this Thanksgiving

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — With Thanksgiving comes lots of food, and, consequently, lots of cooking.

Thanksgiving is the number one time of year for cooking-related fires, according to Pasco Fire Department’s Community Risk Reduction spokesperson Ben Shearer.

Here are some safety tips to keep your home safe during this year’s Thanksgiving festivities.

Don’t leave food cooking unattended

There’s a common saying: “Watch the pot, and it will never boil.” Yes, it can feel like forever to watch something cook, “But it also never burns your house down,” Shearer said.

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He recommends setting timers in intervals to check on food often. If you need to leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, you should turn off the stove.

Prep your cooking area

Before you start cooking, make sure you turn on all the vents and fans in your kitchen. This will help keep any smoke easily ventilating, and minimize the risk of smoke detectors going off around your house by accident.

Cluttered counters can often accompany cooking in large quantities. Making sure that things are away from the stove top while it’s in use can keep you safe.

Make sure to clear your counter tops of anything that can catch fire. Things like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, and towels should be clear of the stovetop while in use.

If you see a small cooking fire…

In some cases, you may see a fire in your oven or stove. Here are a few tips in the case that does happen.

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If the fire originates in the oven, immediately turn off the heat. Most importantly, keep the door closed.

If the fire originates on the stove top, turn off the heat as well. Do not try to grab the pot or pan off the stove top, as it can spread the fire and cause unnecessary injury.

Instead, grab a hot pad or oven mitt, and place a lid on top of the pot or pan. This will help suffocate the fire. Leave it to cool for a while; reintroducing oxygen too soon can start flames again.

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“Just let it cool off,” Shearer said. “It’s already burned, the food in there is probably already going to be bad, so nothing you’re really going to be able to do with it anyway.

“You can proceed safely when everything has cooled down.”

In the event that a fire is somewhere and you don’t feel safe taking these steps, here’s what the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) recommends:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside your home

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