Keeping Cherished Family Traditions while also Keeping Safe

It’s been said that the kitchen is the heart of a home, and that’s never more true than during the holidays. We instinctively gather there: to cook, eat and just enjoy each other’s company. With the approach of Thanksgiving, our kitchens will get quite a workout — and that means it’s time to think about safety.

“When we look forward to the aroma of roasting turkey, baking pumpkin pies and all the other delicious smells coming from the kitchen this time of year,” says Gibson Electric Membership Corporation’s Safety Coordinator Billy Porter, “the one thing we don’t want to smell is smoke from an electrical fire! We remind our members to stay safe as they prepare holiday meals for their family and friends.”

With that in mind, here are some helpful tips to improve kitchen safety — during Thanksgiving and all year round:

  • With so much hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get distracted by the arrival of guests, the latest score in the big game, etc. But to stay safe, keep an eye on your cooking and stay in the kitchen. About a third of all kitchen fires are started by unattended cooking.
  • Keep dish towels, pot holders and oven mitts away from stovetop burners.
  • Pay attention to what you’re wearing. Big loose sleeves are a no-no — as are scarves.
  • Watch children closely, and never leave hot pots or pans within their easy reach on the edge of a countertop or table.
  • Don’t overload outlets by plugging in multiple appliances like slow cookers, electric skillets, and unplug the devices when they’re not in use.
  • By the time it all finally comes together, the crew is famished and you’re ready to get off your feet and enjoy the results of your culinary efforts! Before you leave the kitchen, check one last time to make sure that the oven, stove and any electrical appliances are all turned off.

If a kitchen fire should occur, however, be ready to respond by taking these steps:

  • Quickly turn off the heat source.
  • Never throw water on an electrical fire. A stovetop fire in a shallow pan can usually be extinguished by covering the flames with a metal lid or baking sheet.
  • If it’s small and fairly manageable, pour baking soda or salt on the fire to smother it. (Never use flour; it can explode and make the fire worse.)
  • If something inside the oven catches fire, do not open the oven door; just turn the oven off and back away — the fire will eventually go out due to lack of oxygen. Opening the oven door can fan the flames and burn your face or set your hair on fire.
  • For a stovetop grease fire that grows into a larger blaze, spray with a Class B dry chemical fire extinguisher. Stand 8 feet away from the fire and aim above the flames.

If the fire has started to spread beyond your ability to put it out swiftly, do not hesitate to call 911.

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