NEW YORK - According to recent data, fire companies across the United States responded to about 1,300 home structure fires during the Thanksgiving holiday last year - more than three times the average daily number of house fire emergencies.
Here are some quick cooking safety tips from the Firemen's Association of New York State (FASNY) to ensure your holiday feast and family get-together doesn't become another statistic:
- Remain in the kitchen while cooking. Whether you're frying, grilling, baking or broiling food, it's always a good idea to supervise cooking directly.
- Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it's for "just a second." A second is all it takes for a house fire to start.
- If you're simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you're cooking.
- For homes with children, create a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried. Or, better yet, tell the kids to remain outside the kitchen area while food is being prepared. The safest chef is an undistracted chef!
- Make sure your smoke detectors are functioning by pressing the "test" button. If needed, replace the batteries - and if even after that they're not functioning, install brand-new smoke alarms.
- Tradition or not, deep-frying turkeys is extremely dangerous, especially when done without care. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association strongly discourages the practice. <u><a href="http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1700&itemID=41092&URL=Safety%20Information/For%20consumers/Causes/Cooking/Turkey%20fryers">Click this link to find out why.</a></u>