(Valley resident William Shatner helps warn people about frying and cooking this holiday weekend, saying "I've burned myself, I've almost burned my house down!" Uh oh! Anyway, below is the advice by Roland Sprewell, a captain in the Los Angeles County Fire Department.)
I love the Thanksgiving holiday season! Kitchens become the heart of every home, with mouthwatering dishes, heavenly aromas and a great place to sip eggnog and bond with family and guests.
Unfortunately, too often on Thanksgiving, the kitchen has also been ground zero for some of the most destructive house fires nationwide. Kitchen fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In 2005-09, fire departments around the country responded to more than 155,000 house fires per year involving kitchen fires. These fires caused an annual average of 390 deaths, 4,800 injuries and $771 million in direct property damage. Thanksgiving Day takes the lead of all days for kitchen fires.
Many of the kitchen fires I’ve responded to in my career have occurred because of one common denominator: not paying attention. Moms can only do so much multi-tasking. And on a day that has some of the best professional football on TV, Dad may be easily distracted.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your holiday dinner is not only a memorable one, but a safe one as well.
1) Stay in the kitchen when you’re frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn the stove off. (Sounds basic, but this one is a major fail for many people).
2) Keep anything that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden and plastic utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains, away from the stovetop. Don't forget to look out for small kids near the stove.
3) When simmering, baking or roasting, use a timer to help you remember what “project” you’re working on.
4) Never consume large amounts of alcohol while cooking. Alcohol diminishes your level of alertness and your memory.
5) Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother grease fires. Smother by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled off. Another way to prepare for grease fires is to keep a box of baking soda (not baking powder—it’s explosive) near the stove. If a grease fire occurs, DO NOT throw the baking soda onto the pan, but rather use the box to blanket the baking soda over the fire. Then cover it with a lid until cool. Of course, every home should have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen area.
6) If you do have a fire that can’t be controlled by the measures just described, GET OUT! And make sure everyone gets out and STAYS OUT! Once you get outside, call 911.
The holiday season is a great time of the year for family, food and fun. Let’s keep it that way this year. For more tips, go to lafd.blogspot.org.
I’ve attached a PSA that actor William Shatner produced, which has been very popular on the Internet. It illustrates with eye-popping clarity exactly what I’m talking about with these types of holiday mishaps.
Remember, if you stay ready, you’ll never have to get ready! Bon appetit!