NORTHBROOK, Ill., Nov. 1, 2010 – Thanksgiving Day is typically marked by fantastic food, family and friends, full stomachs and football – but along with the fun is the reality that cooking fires are three times more likely to occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. Among all the preparations that go into the big day, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the leading independent product safety organization, is reminding families to "Commit a Minute" to making safety a priority on this holiday.
Thanksgiving is the peak day for preventable home cooking fires and cooking fires are the top cause of house fires and injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). With more than 377,000 house fires in 2009, cooking and kitchen safety are key ingredients to a successful feast on November 25.
"It’s easy to become distracted with family and friends coming in and out of the kitchen, but distractions in the kitchen can lead to unfortunate accidents," said John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety at UL. "If you are the family chef, remember that kitchen safety should be your main priority. We know the hours of work that go into Thanksgiving, so fortunately there are dozens of things you can do in one minute or less to improve your family’s safety dramatically."
Whether you are hosting and planning a traditional turkey dinner or only preparing a side dish to take to someone’s home, UL is offering 10 ideas that take a minute or less for reducing the risk of accidents:
1. Keep the range free of clutter. When preparing a Thanksgiving feast, multitasking is a must in order to finish the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing. But don’t overload a range top with too many pots and pans.
2. Do not try to hold a child in one arm while cooking with the other. Holding a child while cooking is an invitation for a burn. It’s best, if possible, to keep children out of the kitchen altogether while cooking.
3. Never put a glass casserole or lid on the stove or over a burner. If it gets hot and explodes, it will send shards of glass in all directions causing harm to anything in its path.
4. Evaluate appliances wisely and look for the UL Mark. When purchasing electric cooking products, such as electric knives, slow cookers and food processors, look for the UL Mark. The UL Mark is one of the most widely recognized and trusted safety symbols among consumers.
5. Think twice before using a turkey fryer. Because turkey fryers pose a number of distinct safety concerns, including burn and fire hazards, UL does not certify any turkey fryers. If you must use a turkey fryer this Thanksgiving, UL urges you to be extremely cautious and read our turkey fryer safety tips at http://www.safetyathome.com/.
6. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency and know how to use it. Make sure the fire extinguisher is UL Listed and rated for grease and electrical fires. Read the directions carefully before beginning Thanksgiving dinner. The acronym P.A.S.S. can help make sure you use it properly.
a. Pull the pin; Aim the spray nozzle low at the base of the fire; Squeeze the trigger to spray the contents; Sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.
7. Remove lids on hot pans by tilting them away from you. You’ll be checking and rechecking the dishes, so remember that tilting the lid will help to protect your face and hands from hot steam.
8. Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking. Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or a hot burner. Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
9. Accessorize with a potholder, oven mitt and lid. If a small fire starts in a pan on the stove, turn off the burner, put on a flame-resistant oven mitt and smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Don’t remove the lid until the food has cooled.
10. Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking. It’s tempting to check out the game or say hi to your guests, but most fires in the kitchen occur because food is left unattended. If you must leave the kitchen briefly, carry an oven mitt with you as a reminder that something is cooking.
For more information on how to keep your Thanksgiving accident-free and for other suggestions on how you can "Commit a Minute" to safety, visit http://www.safetyathome.com/.