Thanksgiving is a day to get fired up about

November 22, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Good morning, gentlemen ... Happy Thanksgiving. Now get the hell out of the kitchen before it's too late.

This is for your own good, for the good of your family and the good of your wife.

At this point of the morning, she may be difficult to convince. She may still be under the impression that she needs you to perform a few culinary tasks that are within your realm of capability, such as cubing bread, chopping celery or removing the butter from the mouth of the dog.

So you will need to talk to her. Sit her down in a quiet corner and calmly present the facts. Show her this column.

In an article titled "Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires," the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says, "Fires resulting from cooking continue to be the most common type of fire experienced by U.S. households. This is true for fires reported to fire departments and those handled by private individuals. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of home fire injuries."


Get that? Only a smoldering fritter stands between you and utter devastation. But the most startling part of the report is this item: "Males face a disproportionate risk of cooking fire injury relative to the amount of cooking they do."

Mon Dieu! The message is clear and sobering. If we males enter the kitchen, we are a threat to ourselves and all we hold dear. Tragedy at any time of the year is, uh, tragic, but at the holidays this is a risk we clearly can't afford to take.

And keep in mind, this report wasn't issued by some clueless, disorganized, undependable, head-up-its-tuchas group of overpaid chuckleheads. This report was issued by FEMA.

So you know it's accurate.

Men plus kitchen equals burned-down house. So obviously, in the interest of safety, you women should not let us anywhere near the Thanksgiving food-preparation process. Keep us in the house someplace where we will be safe, like in front of a football game. There was no mention in this report anywhere of televised sports causing house fires.

I know there are a lot of selfless men out there who really will want to help out with the candied yams, but I cannot in good conscience let you do it. If you will not stay out of the kitchen for your own safety, at least think of the children.

Speaking personally, I cannot tell you of the number of cooking-related fires I have almost caused. I have been scraping potatoes and minding my own business, only to have the peels spontaneously burst into flames.

Fire companies tell you to change the batteries in your smoke detector once every year. Fat lot of good that would do me. I wear mine out in a week. So many black pillars of smoke waft out of my kitchen that I wake up with a start whenever the smoke alarm stops chirping.

And as a public service reminder, did you change the batteries in your smoke alarm when you set back the clock? No, you did not. So do it now. Change your batteries, keep the man away from the stove - lessons to live by. As a matter of fact, if your alarm is in the kitchen, the woman of the house should change the batteries because if the man tries to do it, it will probably burst into an inferno of molten plastic.

As to why men cause more fires that lead to more injuries in the kitchen, I think you need to go back to primitive times for an explanation. Men did the hunting and women did the cooking. Whenever a man tried to cook, he would wind up burning down the cave. The reason is that early man was fascinated with fire, just as we are today.

If a pan of fried oysters ignites, a woman will think 911, while a man will think "cool." Instead of thinking how he can put the fire out, he will wonder if maybe he can do the same thing with the frozen peas.

Clearly, with this kind of mentality, it is not worth the risk. So gently explain to her that you won't be participating in any mealtime preparations this year, for the greater good. The kitchen will be safe from a raging conflagration - even if you might not be.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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