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Don’t Be a Turkey! Follow These Cooking and Kitchen Safety Rules This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving feast preparations have started for many who plan to host the holiday for their friends and family. According to Butterball’s Thanksgiving Outlook Report, 79 percent of individuals buying turkey plan to serve a whole turkey. As inflation has increased and impacted spending power, more than a quarter of hosts will host a potluck-style dinner, requesting guests to contribute a dish.

Preparing those dishes and the centerpiece turkey keeps kitchens bustling. Whether hosts tackle the Thanksgiving spread or ask guests to bring a dish, follow these cooking and safety tips to minimize fire risk and injury this holiday season.

Table of Contents:

  • Basic Kitchen Safety Tips

  • Fire Safety in the Kitchen

  • Cooking with Oil Safety

  • Knife Safety

Key Takeaways:

The National Fire Protection Association reports that more than half of cooking-related house fires start in the kitchen. Learn how to minimize the risk of injuries and house fires when prepping the big feast this Thanksgiving.

Basic Kitchen Safety Tips

The kitchen is a harbor of injury risk. From sharp knives to hot burners, carelessness can lead to lacerations, burns, or even a house fire. Understanding basic safety precautions in the kitchen helps to minimize injury and house fires.

A busy kitchen with many hands in the pot (quite literally) means that individuals need to be mindful of a few standard safety guidelines. As guests crowd into the kitchen to heat dishes, prep, or socialize, the risk of accidents can increase. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Never walk with a knife with the blade facing upwards. Always point the blade downward.

  2. When dishes need to be kept hot using electric heating plates or in crockery, a power strip in an outlet is fine for securing multiple plugs. Never plug a power string into another power strip; this is called daisy chaining and poses a fire hazard.

  3. Pay attention to gas and electric burners. Some stoves easily turn on if the knob is bumped. When all dishes are cooked, ensure all the burners (and the oven) are turned off. Thanksgiving is hectic, and it’s easy to forget to turn off the stove or the oven.

  4. Always keep an ABC fire extinguisher in the kitchen. This type of extinguisher is effective against all types of fires.

  5. The microwave is an easy way to reheat dishes. However, always remember to remove any foil from dishes. Never place metal dishes in the microwave. Foil and metal conduct electrical energy and will ignite a fire in the microwave.

Fire Safety in the Kitchen

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than half of house fires related to cooking originated from the stove or the oven; these fires contributed to 88 percent of cooking fire deaths.

All kitchens should have an ABC fire extinguisher. In addition, cooks need to follow these guidelines to minimize fire risk.

  1. Don’t leave cooking food unattended. Food can drip onto burners or heating elements and ignite.

  2. Keep flammable items and liquids away from sources of heat. When grabbing hot dishes with mitts, hold the handles and be mindful of getting the mitt near burners.

  3. Position pot handles and pans facing inward. This ensures that the pan won’t be bumped off the stove.

  4. In case of a fire, keep pot lids nearby. The lid can be used to smother the fire.

  5. Remember to turn down the heat. Potatoes and other dishes easily boil over, starting a fire when they hit the burner.

Cooking with Oil Safety

When cooking with oil, grease fires can result from oil landing on burners or heating elements. Oil and grease are fairly synonymous, and care must be taken when cooking with any oil.

Water will NOT extinguish a grease or oil fire. An ABC extinguisher is effective against these fires. However, if cooks do not have an ABC extinguisher nearby, salt or baking soda also extinguishes these fires.

Cooks should use grease pans beneath dishes in the oven. These pans catch grease that overflows from dishes. Cookie sheets can be used as a grease pan, too.

Simple Knife Safety Tips

Again, knives should be carried with the blade facing downward. Hosts serving a whole turkey need to use a sharp knife for carving. There is a right way and a wrong way to cut. Improper knife usage can result in serious injury and a trip to the emergency room. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Cut away from you. That knife should never be directed towards the body.

  • Never use a dull blade. Sharpen the knife!

  • Keep children away from you when cutting the turkey. The Red Cross states that children should never assist with carving.

Have a Safe Thanksgiving

When preparing to host a Thanksgiving feast, the Eureka Fire Protection District wants you to stay safe in the kitchen. Follow our tips for a safe and injury-free celebration, and enjoy this holiday with friends and family!

About the Author:

Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.

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