Holiday Fire Safety Facts

For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations.

So, keeping fire safety top of mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at home. As you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, remember, by following a few simple safety tips you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safer from fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

  • There are more home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve.
  • Cooking equipment was involved in one of every five (20%) of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment. 
  • In 2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,630 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.
  • Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.
  • Cooking caused almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths in 2014-2018. 
  • 61% of reported home cooking fires start on the stove top as opposed to the oven.
  • Electric ranges have a higher chance of igniting than gas ranges.
  • More than half of non-fatal injuries occurred when people tried to control the fire themselves.
  • CANDLES:  Christmas is the peak day for candle fires with almost three times the daily average.  From January through November, 4% of home candle fires started with decorations. This jumped to 12% in December.
  • FIREWORKS:  Ten percent of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30 through January 3, with the peak on New Year’s Day.

TOP 12 SAFETY TIPS

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Create a three-foot “child-free zone” around the stove. Keep children and pets away from the stove while cooking to prevent burns and scalds.
  • Keep pot handles turned inward to prevent accidental spills of hot contents.
  • Stand by your pan. Don’t leave food, grease or oils cooking on the stove top unattended.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose fitting clothing can easily catch fire. If your clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP & ROLL to put out the flames. Put burns in cool running water. Call 9-1-1 for help. 
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

If you have a small (grease) cooking fire and decide to fight the fire… 

  • Put a lid on a grease fire to smother it, then turn off the heat. Baking soda will also work. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. 
  • Never move a burning pan. You can be badly burned or spread the fire.
  • Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire. Water will only spread the fire and the force of the extinguisher can splash flaming grease out of the pan.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. 

If you have any doubt about fighting a small fire… 

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire. 
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number from outside the home.

It can be annoying if your smoke alarm goes off while you’re cooking, but never take the battery out. If it keeps being activated, you may need to move the alarm.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many of us are spending a lot more time at home and cooking more frequently these days. So, it follows that kitchen fires and their related injuries are on the rise too. However, by taking some simple precautions and using common sense, meal-time prep disasters can be avoided.

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