PIKESVILLE, Md. (November 24, 2009) During the Thanksgiving Holiday many families gather together to celebrate festivities. Unfortunately, year after year, cooking related fires injure residents and damage many homes. As the holiday season approaches and the preparation for entertaining guests heighten, the State Fire Marshal wants to remind Marylanders to stay in the kitchen while cooking meals. In a study of home cooking fires conducted by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), ignition occurred in six out of seven incidents while the cook was out of the kitchen.
"Cooking fires continue to be the #1 cause of home fires both in Maryland and across the country," said the State Fire Marshal. Distractions and forgetfulness are the key reasons why devices intended to cook or warm up food start a fire. In many cases, the cook is in another room; typically because he or she forgot that something was cooking or was distracted by guests, children, phone calls, television or other interruptions.
The State Fire Marshal advises these safety suggestions while cooking:
-- Don't leave cooking food unattended
-- Don't wear loose clothing, roll up sleeves if necessary
-- Keep pot handles turned inward to avoid spills, and utilize back burners to keep items further away from small children
-- Keep potholders, dishtowels, food packaging and other clutter off the stovetop
-- Clean cooking equipment; built-up grease can catch fire
In addition, State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard urges Marylanders to use extreme caution when using portable cooking equipment especially turkey fryers. The following suggestions include:
-- Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from structures
-- Make sure the equipment is set up on a flat non-combustible base, away from decks and other materials that can burn
-- Never leave the fryer unattended
-- Avoid overheating the oil in the cooker
-- Make sure food is completely thawed prior to immersing it in the hot oil
-- Read carefully and follow all instructions with the cooker
-- Set up a safe zone around the cooker to keep children and pets away.