State Fire officials encourage people to be careful in the kitchen on Thanksgiving

Safety tops to prevent kitchen fires this Thanksgiving

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The kitchen will be a busy place on Thanksgiving.

It’s where many people will be whipping up the big meal or coming to fill up their plates.

But if you’re not careful, this is also the place where a house fire can start.

“Even one fire death is one too many,” said Beth Reiss, Communications Director for the Mississippi Insurance Department and State Fire Marshal’s Office.

In 2020, the Magnolia state has seen six of cooking related house fire deaths that have happened in Jackson, Marshall, Lawrence, Harrison, and Hinds counties.

Two of deaths occurred in Hinds County, including one at a home on California Avenue back in March.

“In that case it was unattended cooking. A man and a woman both lost their lives and unfortunately in that situation they did not have any smoke alarms in their home,” said Reiss.

Reiss said the fires often start due to unattended cooking.

She said people will get distracted and leave the kitchen to go watch tv or mingle with family members.

Now, Reiss is urging people not to do that this year.

  • In fact, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is giving out a few tips to help prevent any kitchen fires from happening this year:
  • Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stovetop or oven· Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, baking, or broiling food. Always stand by your pan.
  • If you must leave the kitchen for even a short amount of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that the stove or oven is on.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Loose clothing can catch fire if it gets too close to a gas flame or electric burner.

Additionally, he said that kids should not be allowed in the kitchen.

  • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove.
  • If you have young children, use the stove’s back burners whenever possible.
  • Turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots will be knocked over.
  • Never hold a small child while cooking.

If you have a fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 911 after you leave. Be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires, pan and pot 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.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Finally, if you’re frying a turkey this year, Chaney’s office offers these helpful hints:

  • Fryers should be used outdoors, a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
  • Some turkey fryers are designed for indoor use. If you use one of these, follow manufacturer directions carefully.
  • Never use a fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dried before cooking. Be careful with marinades, because oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends you thaw a turkey 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
  • The Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office recommends, when using a propane fryer, using a hose at least 6 feet long to distance the propane tank from the fryers flame.

In 2018 there were 12 cooking-related house fire deaths in the state, last year there were four.

The alarming numbers are why the State Fire Marshal’s office is urging everyone to be cautions and careful while in the kitchen.

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