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Holiday cooking safety tips offered

November 22, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

With Thanksgiving arriving Thursday, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office is warning people to use caution when preparing their holiday meals.

Bruce D. Bouch, state fire marshal’s office spokesman, said kitchen accidents increase over the holidays because people preparing food are more distracted.

Thanksgiving “tends to be more prone to cooking incidents because you have more family in the house and more food on the stove,” Bouch said. “With more family in the home, you tend to be distracted more.”

The fire marshal’s office suggests that holiday chefs take extra precautions in the kitchen this year, including making sure smoke detectors are operable and pot handles on the stove are pointed inward to avoid knocking hot food on a child’s head.

Fire officials also recommend keeping alcoholic beverages out of the kitchen while preparing the meal and keeping a lid nearby to smother small grease fires.

Bouch said water should never be used to extinguish a grease fire.

“It causes it to flare up,” he said. “The immediate immersion of water into oil causes a violent reaction. It can quickly shoot straight up in the air” and ignite kitchen cabinets.

He said oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels and other combustibles should be kept away from burners and in a safe place.

Other safety tips include:

  • Make sure the exits are clear in case of a fire.
  • Don’t leave cooking food unattended.
  • Keep children and pets in a safe area.
  • Eliminate clutter in the kitchen.
  • Don’t leave lighted candles unattended.

Turkey fryer safety

  • Many turkey-fryer appliances can be easily tipped over, allowing for hot oil spillage. Ensure you place them on a hard, level and noncombustible outdoor surface.
  • Do not place a turkey fryer under an overhang or temporary roof. A flare-up can easily ignite materials above the appliance.
  • Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spillover and a flare-up. Thoroughly thaw the turkey before cooking.
  • Constantly monitor the temperature of the oil. It can easily reach combustible temperatures.
  • Be careful not to overfill the fryer. Follow manufacturer guidelines for proper filling levels.
  • The handles and lid will get dangerously hot. Use well-insulated pot holders or oven mitts.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended while cooking. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher on hand.

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