To ensure a safe holiday next week, the Winston-Salem Fire Department is reminding cooks to "stand by their pan" on Thanksgiving Day to prevent fires.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, and Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires. Nationwide, in 2007, firefighters responded to roughly 1,300 home fires involving cooking equipment on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This is roughly three times the daily average of cooking fires.
During 2008, the Winston-Salem Fire Department responded to 102 cooking-related fires. To ensure a safe holiday, Assistant Fire Chief Robert Owens suggests that residents follow these tips for cooking safely:
- Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove or stovetop.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen 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.
If you have a cooking fire:
- Keep a lid nearby when you're 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.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
- When in doubt, just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 9-1-1 after you leave.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, during 2003-2006, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 150,200 home fires involving cooking equipment.
Cooking equipment was involved in 40 percent of all reported home fires, 17 percent of home fire deaths, 36 percent of home civilian injuries, and 12 percent of the direct property damage resulting from home fires. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires.
The association also reported that three-fifths (57 percent) of reported home cooking fire injuries occurred when victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
If you should have additional questions, contact the Winston-Salem Fire Department at 773-7900 or go to www.CityofWSfire.org.
Can the Grease this Holiday Season!