Thanksgiving is in a few days and just as traditional as the cranberry dressing are the warnings you receive from safety professionals and agencies regarding the statistics on Thanksgiving Day home fires. As the articles and info-graphics start to pop up on our news feeds and we all roll our eyes at the repetitiveness and information that most of us consider to be common sense, we must remember that the statistics are sobering evidence that regardless of how basic most of the household fire prevention methods may seem, the fire departments will still be busy on Thanksgiving.
We’ve all done something unsafe in the kitchen on Thanksgiving trying to beat the clock and have the entire feast done before guests arrive. We’ve left something in the oven to cook overnight while we slept. We’ve left something roasting in the oven while we’ve run to the store to buy a forgotten ingredient. We’ve tried to multi-task and burned something on the stove or in the oven because we got sidetracked with another task and forgot to check on the food. We’ve set something flammable on the stove. Perhaps melted a plastic container on a burner. I could go on. I’m pretty sure we all have stories. My point is that we’ve done these things but, we need to realize that we are lucky to be here to talk about this.
According to the NFPA almost half of all household fires were caused by cooking equipment. Unattended cooking was the leading cause of cooking fires and fire deaths. There are four times as many household fires on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year with Christmas coming in second. This is sad because so many of these fires could be prevented if we would all just practice the kitchen fire prevention methods that we have heard over and over again. Here they are again!
- Do not leave things to cook overnight either in the oven, or on the stove top if nobody is going to stay awake to attend them. Even if you have an oven that you can set to turn off at a certain time, that does not guarantee that nothing will go wrong while the food is cooking.
- When cooking items on the stovetop, stay where you can keep an eye on the food so that it doesn’t burn or cause a grease fire.
- Do not leave the stove or oven on when you leave the house. Things CAN go wrong! I once rescued a neighbor who had blazing pots in her oven. She had no idea how they caught on fire.
- Make sure your stove and oven are clean of debris and grease spills. Even something as small as a macaroni elbow can catch on fire.
- Make sure nothing that can catch fire is too near the stove. Do not keep items like oven mitts, towels, wooden cooking utensils containers that are not stove safe, on or too near the stove.
- Stay alert! If you’re sleepy or have been drinking alcohol, don’t lay down or go relax in a comfy chair while there is food cooking. Either stay up, or put off cooking until you have gotten some sleep. Don’t risk falling asleep with food cooking!
Every year people hear these safety tips, these safety RULES, and yet Thanksgiving remains the biggest home fire day of the year. Everybody breaking these rules are most likely all thinking the same thing. “It will be okay”, “I’ll only be gone for a few minutes”, “I’ve done this before”. Do these sound familiar? They do to me! I’m writing this as much for me as for you. I vow to follow these rules. All of them! I urge you to do the same. I would love to read a post from NFPA in a few weeks that says this Thanksgiving had the least home fires in years. Let’s make that happen!