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KFD reminds residents to cook safely during holidays

Staff Report • Nov 21, 2017 at 5:45 PM

KINGSPORT — 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.

Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day for home cooking fires in the U.S., so keeping fire safety in mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important.

As you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, the Kingsport Fire Department urges you to follow a few simple safety tips so you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safe.

Thanksgiving by the numbers:

• Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

• In 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

• Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.

• Cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries and is the second leading cause of home fire deaths.

General safety tips:

• Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

• Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.

• Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay three feet away.

• Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

• Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

• Keep knives out of the reach of children.

• 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 with a lit candle.

• Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

The dangers of turkey fryers:

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) believes turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer.

These turkey fryers use a large amount of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil.

The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property. The NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants, or to consider a new type of “oil-less” turkey fryer.

If you are going to deep fry a turkey:

1. Stay away from the house. Set up the turkey fryer more than 10 feet away from your home and keep children and pets away. Never leave it unattended.

2. Find flat ground. The oil must be even and steady at all times to ensure safety. Place the fryer on a flat, level surface and carefully gauge the amount of oil needed.

3. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry. Extra water will cause the oil to bubble furiously and spill over. If oil spills from the fryer onto the burner, it can cause a fire.

4. Monitor the temperature. Use caution when touching the turkey fryer. The lid and handle can become very hot and could cause burns. Also, be sure to keep track of the oil’s temperature, as many fryers do not have their own thermostats.

5. Be prepared. Have a fire extinguisher (ABC multipurpose, dry-powder) ready at all times in the event that the oil ignites.