Cooking Safety for Holiday Meals

The holidays are upon us again, and with them brings hustle, bustle, family, friends, and food.

Most would consider the food to be an integral part of the winter holidays – and it’s not just the consumption of the food, but the preparation of the food, that takes center stage. Even the most well-intentioned guest seems to have an opinion about how this or that should be made. Auntie Faye has already had one too many glasses of wine, kids are running around underfoot, and laughter abounds. This year, be sure the memories you make are happy ones and don’t include a trip to the emergency room or a visit from your local fire department. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), in 2013, there were 1,550 fires on Thanksgiving, which is 230 percent more than the average number of fires reported each day nationally. Christmas Day came in second at 740 (up 58 percent over an ordinary day) and then Christmas Eve at 720 (up 54 percent). NFPA reports cooking fires as the No. 1 cause of home fires and home injuries on average, regardless of the day, and unattended cooking as the leading cause of kitchen fires. One basic rule for cooking safety is to not allow pan or knife handles to stick out where they can be bumped. Avoid wearing dangling jewelry, loose sleeves, and anything else that can accidentally catch on a handle and cause it to fall. If spills do occur, clean them up quickly. Also, don’t underestimate the power of steam. Even something as simple as reaching over a pot of boiling water to turn off a burner can cause a pretty serious burn. And avoid cross-contamination by remembering to use different cutting boards for meat than you do for produce, and washing your hands often. To ensure you, your family, friends, and home stay safe this holiday season, do your best to follow these guidelines:
  • Stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself that there’s something cooking.
  • Keep children and animals away from the cooking area, and at least three feet from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from any appliance that generates heat. Common examples include pot holders, oven mitts, recipe cards, wooden utensils, plastic bags, food packaging, paper towels, dish towels, and curtains.
  • Prevent grease buildup by cleaning cooking surfaces regularly.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to put out small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stove. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cool. If you have a fire in the oven, keep the door closed to contain the flames and promptly turn the unit off.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and be sure you know how to use it.
  • Before heading to bed or leaving the house, always recheck that appliances are turned off.
  • Have a smoke alarm installed near the kitchen, on each level, and near sleeping areas. Use the test button to check them each month and replace batteries at least once a year.
If a fire does start, get out! Close all possible doors to help contain the fire. After you leave, call 911.
Take an active role in cooking safety this holiday season. If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have suffered a loss in a fire that was someone else’s fault, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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