Thanksgiving tops for cooking fires

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving remains the leading day for cooking fires, with three times as many cooking fires as on an average day.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking equipment fires are still the leading cause of U.S. home fires and fire injuries, and the third leading cause of fire deaths. On a typical Thanksgiving, U.S. fire departments respond to 1,500 home cooking fires compared to 450 such fires on an average day.

U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 155,000 home structure fires involving cooking equipment. These fires caused an average of 460 civilian deaths, 4,850 reported civilian fire injuries, and $725 million in direct property damage.

Overall, these incidents accounted for 41 percent of reported home fires, 17 percent of home fire deaths, more than one-third (37 percent) of home fire injuries, and 11percent of the direct property damage resulting from home fires. Three of every five people (59 percent) injured in a cooking fire were hurt when they tried to fight the fire themselves.

Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking equipment fires. Ranges or cooktops were involved in the majority (59 percent) of home cooking fire incidents; ovens accounted for 16 percent. Clothing was the item first ignited in 1 percent of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 15 percent of the cooking fire deaths.

*Cook with caution:

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:

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 after you leave.

If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out. 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.

Follow these safety tips and enjoy your Thanksgiving holidays!