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NFPA urges caution when preparing holiday meals, offers safe cooking tips


Last updated 12/8/2006 at Noon

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) studies show cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Hundreds of Americans are killed each year due to home cooking fires and thousands more are injured. Cooking fires also cause roughly half a billion dollars in direct property damage to the homes and the belongings inside.

It can be easy to get wrapped up in entertaining guests, but it is important to remember to stay in the kitchen and monitor meal preparation closely as most cooking fires start because cooking has been left unattended.

People may look to vary the traditional turkey entrée by using a turkey fryer, but due to the unique fire and injury hazards associated with this specific piece of equipment, NFPA recommends against their use.

The deep-frying cooking process requires that up to five gallons of oil be heated before placing the turkey into the device. Tests have shown that a number of available turkey fryer devices are not sturdy and can easily tip over, allowing hot oil to spill, creating a serious risk of fire or scald burn from contact. There also have been reports of turkey fryers overheating, which can also lead to hot oil spilling or splattering outside the fryer, which is again a recipe for dangerous fires, serious injuries and property loss.

If having fried turkey is a must, NFPA recommends consumers turn to commercial sources where professionals will prepare their entrée with a safety and skill unlikely to be matched at home. Some supermarkets and restaurants accept orders for fried turkeys during the holiday season.

NFPA offers detailed information about home cooking fires, including advice for cooking safety, educational resources and the report “Home Cooking Fire Patterns and Trends” at

NFPA offers these tips for safer cooking:

• Stand by your pan — Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on. Keep in mind that you should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or electric burner.

• No kids allowed — Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet (one meter) around the stove. If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible, and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots with hot contents will be knocked over. Never hold a small child while cooking.

• Keep it clean — Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop. Clean up food and grease from burners and the stovetop.


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