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Fire Department shares holiday cooking safety tips

by | Nov 20, 2023 | News, Police & Fire

Hopkinton interim Fire Chief Gary Daugherty and the Hopkinton Fire Department have shared safety tips with community members as they plan to cook, bake and enjoy holiday meals over the coming days and weeks.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving, Christmas and Christmas Eve are peak days for home cooking fires. During 2017–21, unattended cooking was the leading factor contributing to cooking fires and casualties.

To help prevent cooking fires and burn injuries this holiday season, community members are encouraged to review the following tips from the NFPA.

  • When using the stovetop, never leave anything cooking unattended. Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • When simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while the food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • When frying or sautéing, heat oil slowly to the temperature you need. Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells while cooking, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging or towels — away from the stovetop.
  • Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the stove.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from things like vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep the kitchen and dining room floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, bags or other items while cooking or handling food.
  • Test smoke alarms before cooking and make sure the batteries are replaced if needed.
  • If you have a cooking fire:
    • If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan is completely cool.
    • If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the oven and leave the door closed. The oven should be checked and/or serviced before being used again.
    • If you try to put out a fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Call 911 after you leave.

Additionally, the NFPA strongly discourages the use of deep fryers for cooking turkeys. For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends purchasing a fried turkey from a grocery store or restaurant or buying a fryer that does not use oil. Those who do use a fryer should use it on a sturdy, flat surface that is outdoors and at least 10 feet away from structures, including porches. Turkeys should be completely thawed and dried before being placed in a deep fryer to avoid flare-ups.

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