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Fire officials urge safety during holiday season

November 20, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - People basting turkeys and baking pies this week should remember several safety tips, the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office said.

Cooking is the leading cause of fires in Maryland and nationally, said Jane Edwards, the office's program manager.

In 2006 in Maryland, 1,631 fires were determined to be cooking-related, she said.

Cooking equipment was involved in 31 percent of home structure fires reported in 2003, according to a U.S. Fire Administration report that analyzed data from 1999 to 2003.

Many injuries occur when people stay in the kitchen to fight the fire themselves.

"You don't want to stay in there trying to battle the blaze and delay the initial call to 911," she said.

About 55 percent of the people who were injured in cooking-related fires in the U.S. were injured when they tried to fight the fire themselves, according to the U.S. Fire Administration report.

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State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard also warned people to use "extreme caution" when using portable cooking equipment such as turkey fryers.

Of all cooking methods, frying poses the highest risk, the fire administration report shows.

Turkey fryers should be used outdoors at a safe distance from buildings, and away from wooden decks and other material that can burn, the fire marshal said in a news release.




Safe cooking tips



· Don't leave cooking food unattended.

· Roll up sleeves and don't wear loose clothing.

· Keep pot handles turned inward to avoid spills.

· Keep potholders, dishtowels, food packaging and other clutter off the stovetop.

· Clean cooking equipment because built-up grease can catch fire.

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