Polk Co. Fire: Thanksgiving Day peak for home fires, use caution | Families
Polk Co., FL-- The number of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day was three times the national average of fires per day in 2009, according the non-profit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Polk County Fire Rescue is urging the public to keep fire safety in mind when preparing holiday meals.
“Thanksgiving can be a whirlwind of cooking and entertaining guests,” said Brad Ruhmann, Polk County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer. “With so much multitasking taking place, fire hazards around the oven or stovetop can easily be overlooked. Cooks should be conscious of fire safety this Thanksgiving whether the menu is meant to serve two or 20.”
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and related injuries. In 2005-2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 155,400 home fires per year involving cooking equipment. These fires caused an annual average of 390 civilian deaths, 4,800 civilian injuries, and $771 million in direct property damage.
To reduce the risk of cooking fires this holiday, Polk County Fire Rescue recommends the following safety tips:
- Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.
- Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- When 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.
- Stay alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or 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 after you leave.
- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path (to your way out of the home and someone has called the fire department).
- Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pancovered until it is completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.