We often become rushed, distracted or tired during the holiday season, which is when home fires—especially cooking fires—are more likely to happen. In fact, Thanksgiving is the #1 day of the year for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve! Our top tips to make your kitchen safer: Always keep the area around the stove cleared of anything that can burn; never leave the kitchen when the stove is on; don’t leave the house when the oven is on (not even for a turkey); and use a timer to help you remember to turn things off. Here are more tips to keep your kitchen and your entire home a place of joy!
GREASE FIRES: COVER TO SMOTHER
- If a fire starts on your STOVE, most importantly do NOT try to move the pan or pot ... and NEVER use flour or water to try to put out a grease fire! Instead, carefully toss a lid onto the pan/pot or slide a baking sheet over it, and turn off the heat if possible. Otherwise, consider using a fire extiniguisher that you should always keep handy in the kitchen area—but only if the fire is small and it’s not between you and your only exit.
- If a fire starts in your OVEN, keep the oven door CLOSED and allow the fire to go out on its own. If it does, wait a few minutes then open your windows and carefully open the oven door. It will be smoky.
- Whether the fire is on the stove or in the oven, if it’s not going out quickly despite your efforts, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE to your safe meeting spot and call 9-1-1!
UNATTENDED COOKING is the top cause of fires and fire-related deaths around the holidays. Always remember to...
- USE A TIMER. It’s easy to forget you have the stove or oven on, especially once you sit down to enjoy your feast or the big game.
- STAY WITH THE STOVE. Always stay in the kitchen whenever you are cooking to keep a close eye on the stove. Never leave your house when you have food cooking in the oven – not even a ham or turkey! Keep the handles of your pots and pans TURNED BACK AWAY FROM THE EDGE of the stove so they aren’t knocked or pulled down.
- CLEAR THE AREA: Even when the stove is off, but ESPECIALLY when it's on, keep the area around the stove completely clear of flammable items such as hot pads, paper towels, cookbooks, and decorations.
- KEEP KIDS BACK. Always keep children at least 3 feet away from a hot stove top. Move knives well out of their reach when preparing or serving food. Don’t let kids too close to hot dishes or liquids, such as gravy and coffee.
- CAUTION WITH CORDS. Be sure cords from electric knives, coffee makers, plate warmers, and mixers are not dangling off of the counter. Adults may accidentally snag these dangerous items, and children or pets may be tempted to pull them down.
- KNOW THE RISKS OF TURKEY FRYERS. Turkey fryers use a lot of cooking oil at high temperatures, and there is a significant danger that hot oil will be released during cooking. Additionally, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil. To reduce the risk of a turkey fryer catching your home on fire, only use it with great care on a flat surface in the open, well ventilated outdoors. Keep fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.Make sure the turkey is thawed and dry before cooking—ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups. Choose a smaller turkey up to 10 pounds.
WATER YOUR LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE EVERY DAY, AND TURN OFF CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AT BEDTIME
- Fresh trees are less likely to catch fire. When shopping for a live tree, look for one with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from the branches. The tree should not be shedding any needles yet when you buy it!
- Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk.
- Add water to the tree stand EVERY DAY!
- Some lights are only safe for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Use ONLY OUTDOOR LIGHTS on live Christmas trees.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving your house or going to sleep.
- Position the tree away from exits and at least three feet away from any heat source.
- Visit www.PflugervilleTx.gov for information on the City of Pflugerville’s chipping program.
LIGHTS, CANDLES, AND DECORATIONS
- It is against both Fire Code and Electrical Code to use temporary electrical power (such as extension cords) or to display holiday lighting for more than 90 days. This is also addressed in the Caution label attached to most holiday lighting.
- When hanging holiday lights, use clips – not nails – to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged. If you need to use a ladder, work with a partner on the ground for safety.
- Replace any strand of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations, curtains and other things that can burn. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Locate candles away from windows and doors so your exits aren’t blocked if their surroundings catch fire.
- Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach – ideally up high in a locked cabinet – and do not leave children or pets alone in a room with a lit candle.
- Lights out at bedtime! Blow out candles whenever you leave the room or go to sleep.
Before you curl up with a good book and a cup of cocoa by the fire, be sure to get your chimneys cleaned/inspected by a professional every year and your heating equipment inspected. Here are other steps your family can take to stay safe and cozy this winter:
- Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces and portable space heaters, including decorations, rugs, curtains, pillows, baskets, and books. Likewise, follow the 3-feet rule for kids and pets to help keep them from getting burned.
- All types of fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside of your house to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is a deadly gas that’s odorless and colorless. If you have ANY TYPE of fuel-burning equipment for heating or cooking in your home, including both wood and gas fireplaces, stoves, and ovens, you should install at least one CO detector on every level of the home. Remember to test your CO detectors each month and change the batteries every 6 to 12 months, just like you should do with your smoke alarms!
- Ensure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop any sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container; keep that container a safe distance away from your home.
- Always turn off space heaters when you leave the room and when you’re going to sleep.
- Never use an oven to heat your home.