’Tis the season for preparing holiday feasts, and Amica Insurance has some tips to make sure you stay safe in the kitchen.
“Cooking for family and friends is synonymous with the holiday season,” said Lisa St. Onge, an assistant vice president with Amica Insurance. “And while it’s certainly a time to celebrate, we need to remember that cooking also poses a fire safety risk.”
Firefighters respond to an average of 155,000 cooking fires a year, according to federal fire statistics. About 460 people die each year as a result of these fires, which also result in nearly 5,000 injuries and $724 million in property damage.
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that the number of cooking fires increases on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and urges people not to become “a cooking fire casualty.”
That’s why Amica Insurance is sharing these five cooking safety tips from the USFA:
- Make sure stove tops, burners, ovens, microwaves and other cooking appliances are clean and working properly. Don’t use extension cords for microwaves and other cooking appliances.
- Keep flammable materials, such as potholders, oven mitts, towels and cooking utensils, away from the stovetop. Avoid loose-fitting clothing that could catch fire from a gas flame or electric burner.
- Don’t leave food unattended on a stove top or in the oven – especially if you’re frying, grilling or broiling food. Turn off the burners, even if you’re just leaving the kitchen for a short time.
- Never leave the house with food cooking on the stove or in the oven.
- Stay alert. Avoid cooking if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking medication that makes you drowsy.
“Even with these precautions, cooking fires can still occur,” St. Onge noted. “That’s why it’s important to stay in the kitchen while cooking, since fast action can help prevent a fire from spreading.”
- Keep an oven mitt and lid handy, in case a fire breaks out.
- If a small grease fire starts in a pan, carefully place the lid on the pan and turn off the burner. Leave the lid on the pan until it is cool, to prevent the fire from starting again.
- If a fire occurs in an oven or microwave, turn it off and keep the door closed until the fire is completely out. Don’t use the oven or microwave until it’s inspected for damage.
“If you have any doubts about whether the fire is out or whether it’s spreading, get out of the house immediately and call 911,” St. Onge said. “The most important thing is to make sure everyone is safe.”
No one wants a fire to ruin a holiday meal, St. Onge said. “So we’re hoping these tips will help you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season.”
Amica Mutual Insurance Company, the nation's oldest mutual insurer of automobiles, was founded in 1907. The company, with corporate headquarters in Lincoln, RI, is a national writer of automobile, homeowners, marine and personal umbrella liability insurance. Life coverage is available through Amica Life Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary. Amica employs more than 3,100 people in 40 offices across the country.
Editor's note: This blog article is featured on the "Thanksgiving in Darien" topics page, where you can find Darien Patch's articles, announcements and blog posts on Thanksgiving—including recipes.