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Follow these tips from the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York to ensure a safe, accident-free Thanksgiving in the Hudson Valley.
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires throughout the country. With firefighters responding to three times as many emergencies during Thanksgiving, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) provides the following guidelines to ensure that New Yorkers and Hudson Valleyites alike have a safe holiday.
“Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy each other’s company,” says former FASNY President Robert McConville. “We ask that New Yorkers exercise due caution throughout the holiday, and to please follow these simple steps to ensure that everybody has a very happy and a very safe Thanksgiving.”
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Here are the most common factors in home cooking fires and ways to avoid them:
- Unattended cooking: This is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking, as guests, phones, children, pets, and other activity can easily distract a cook.
- Objects catching fire: Clothing ignitions lead to approximately 8% of home cooking fire deaths. It is important to wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves, as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners or gas flames and catch fire. Keep the cooking area clean and combustible materials away from your stove top. Built-up grease, oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, towels, curtains, and other materials on or near the stove can catch fire.
- Cooking equipment unintentionally turned on or not turned off: Be on alert! If you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.
- Deep-frying turkeys: Turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in cooking oil at high temperatures pose a significant danger of hot oil being released or spilled during cooking, leading to devastating burns, other injuries, and property destruction. Never fry a frozen turkey! Click here for more information from the National Fire Protection Association concerning the dangers involved.
- Hot cooking oil exposed to water or outdoor elements: If rain or snow strikes hot cooking oil in propane-fired turkey fryers designed for outdoor use, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the precipitation to steam, which can lead to burns. Frozen and defrosting turkeys also create the risk of contact between water and hot cooking oil, which can cause severe scalding or other serious injury.
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What to do if there’s a cooking fire?
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- Do not use water to put out a grease fire. Use an appropriate fire extinguisher, or baking soda, salt, or a tight lid. Keep the lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. Always keep a box of baking soda near the stove.
Please visit the National Fire Protection Agency’s Web site, www.nfpa.org, for more information on fire safety in the Hudson Valley and beyond.
Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of more than 110,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.