“It’s Party Time”
Recognize Holiday Cooking Fire Hazards
While researching the recent fire (damage) statistics I gleaned from the stats that cooking is the main cause of fire in the “civilized” world. Fire… ever since it was discovered has been used for heating, lighting and most favorably to cook yummy foods. Early man cooked over an open fire using available Class A materials, wood and twigs. The area surrounding the fire was free and clear of nearby combustibles. There weren’t Class B (Flammable & Combustible liquids), Class C (energized electrical equipment), Class D (combustible metals) or Class K (kitchen related/grease/food) types of materials, only Class A existed.
When a fire was initially ignited, it was guarded to prevent spread or most importantly “go out”. Means of ignition were limited. Friction was a choice according to the History Channel; rubbing sticks together or sometimes taking advantage of a nearby lightning strike.
Unattended cooking in today’s busy daily life accounts for the number one cause of home fires, and in some cases wood and wild land fires and outdoor out-of-control camping fires.
The seconds it takes for a kitchen fire to get out of control should be a cook’s factor when planning to cook. Tests confirm that from the time a fire is initiated, on the stove top, in the oven, the grill (gas or charcoal) on the patio or the newly purchased deep-well turkey fryer is three minutes or less. Cooking and the cooks need watching.
Safety provisions must be taken into consideration before beginning the cooking process. Pots and pans require lids which are convenient and effective methods of fire extinguishment; if your food or cooking medium (grease/oil) ignite, simply slide a lid onto the pot or pan, turn off the heat/fire and the FIRE WILL GO OUT. If you have a fire in the oven, which is a reasonably safe place to have a fire, KEEP the door closed; turn off the heat, and the FIRE WILL GO OUT!
Outdoor grill fires are common when they are not supervised and placed too close to combustible materials. Remember, you have intentionally ignited a fire at your house. NEVER move the grill indoors, NEVER. Whether the grill is gas fueled or charcoal/wood fueled, it must be kept out-doors when being used. The combustion process gives off carbon monoxide (which you can’t breathe) and it consumes available oxygen of which you need 19-21 % to survive. You must have proper ventilation, outside.
If you are using the “new” innovation, “the Turkey Fryer”, carefully read the operating instructions. Never deviate from the manufacturer’s instructions. These are not recommendations, they are the how’s and why’s written by experts. There is a toll-free phone number on the instructions, use it if necessary.
When purchasing a fryer or any appliance, make certain the appliance is UL Listed. Underwriter’s Laboratories test manufactured products for safety and verifies that the product does what it is designed and reported to do. UL does not approve anything it only tests.
Read all labels, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and above all stay with the cooking process whether in the kitchen or outside. Safety first always, you are responsible and in control of the cooking process, you are the cook and the fire safety officer.
Have a Happy, not a Fiery Holiday!
Ed Knight is a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI/CFII) and a fire instructor; a retired municipal assistant fire marshal, forensic investigator having investigated several thousand fires and testified over 60 times throughout the United States and several foreign countries. He is Chairman of the Live Burn Facility, Pequea Lane, Lancaster, PA.