Woodward, Okla. —
While families may have different holiday traditions, almost all celebrate by enjoying a meal together.
And as your family is cooking up a feast this Thanksgiving, the American Red Cross encourages you to observe some important holiday cooking safety tips.
For example, to protect against potential food poisoning, make sure hot foods are kept hot and cold ones are kept cool to avoid bacteria growth.
In addition, the Red Cross said that cooking safety also involves fire safety.
"The kitchen is the setting for more fires than any room of the house," said Red Cross Central/Western Oklahoma spokesman Ken Garcia. "And cooking is the leading cause of home fires."
SAFETY TIPS TO AVOID COOKING FIRES
Garcia said Red Cross Tip No. 1 for avoiding a kitchen fire is to not wear loose clothing or have dangling sleeves while cooking. Close behind is staying with food while frying, broiling or grilling it.
"If someone has to leave the kitchen, even for just a moment, they should turn off the stove," he said.
Other safety steps include:
- Check the food regularly while cooking, and use a timer to remember that the stove or oven is on.
- Keep children away from the cooking area. "Make them stay at least 3 feet away from the stove," Garcia said.
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove. This includes wooden utensils, pot holders, oven mitts, paper/plastic food packages, and towels and curtains. "Keep those things away from any appliance that generates heat, not just the stove," Garcia said.
- Keep cooking surfaces clean to prevent a grease buildup.
- Buy a fire extinguisher expressly for the kitchen. Get training from the fire department on using it.
- Always check an appliance before leaving or going to bed to assure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.
- Be sure a smoke alarm is installed near the kitchen, on each level of the home and inside and outside bedrooms. Check them each month. Replace the batteries at least once a year.
Taking these precautions to guard against starting a cooking fire is important, Garcia said, because "A house fire is the single worst disaster threat to families in the United States."
GET THE RED CROSS FIRST AID APP
For more fire prevention tips and to review a safety checklist, visit the Central and Western Oklahoma Red Cross website at www.okc.redcross.org.
You can also learn more about the Red Cross' mobile apps on the website, including a first aid app for your iPhone or Android.
Garcia said the first aid app can come in handy during holiday cooking time as it includes information about not only fire safety, but also how to treat minor injuries such as burns in case you forget your oven mitt while checking on the turkey.