Clark County building and fire officials are reminding residents to be safe cooks on Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season. Cooking is a leading cause of home fires. Nationally, Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for cooking-related fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and the day before Thanksgiving, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
"Almost half of our residential fires in Clark County last year were cooking-related," said Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell. "This is a good time of year to remind people that cooking fires and burn injuries can happen easily when kitchens are in high use."
"It's easy to become distracted during the holidays," said Building & Fire Code Official Jerry Stueve, director of the County's Department of Building & Fire Prevention. "Make sure your household smoke detectors are in good working order in case of fire, and never leave cooking food unattended in a kitchen."
In 2018, 48 percent of residential fires in Clark County were cooking related. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires, and frying is the cooking method that poses the highest risk of fire. The NFPA discourages the use of turkey fryers due to the large amount of oil used and high cooking temperatures.
The following safety tips are recommended to prevent cooking fires:
- Always stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
- Stay in your home when you are cooking you're your turkey, and check on it frequently.
- Adult supervision of children is always needed in kitchens and all cooking areas.
- Position grills, fryers and other outdoor cooking devices well away from walls, siding, deck railings, and out from under the eaves of the house and any nearby tree branches. Ensure these devices can't tip over.
- Position grills, fryers and other outdoor cooking devices well away from walls, siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and nearby tree branches. Ensure these items can't tip over.
- Keep flammable materials such as oven mitts and towels away from the stove or cooking device.
- Stay alert. If you are tired or consuming alcohol, don't cook.
- Don't forget to turn off your oven, fryer, barbecue and stove-top burners. Every year fires are started when people turn on these items and then forget to turn them off.
- Every kitchen should have a working, multi-purpose fire extinguisher with an ABC rating. Check your fire extinguisher on a regular basis. Replace used, outdated or damaged extinguishers.
If you have a cooking fire:
- On a stove-top fire, if it is safe to do so, turn off the burner, then using caution, place a lid on the pan or pot to smother or extinguish a small fire.
- For an oven fire, turn off the oven. Keep the oven door closed to smother and extinguish the fire.
- Do not use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Adding water to a pan of hot oil or grease will cause the burning grease to splash out of the pan and spread the fire. Turn off the stove, fryer or propane tank supply valve, and use a lid, baking soda or fire extinguisher on the flames.
- Don't take risks with a fire. When in doubt, get out of the home and call 911. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire. Nationally, more than half of all reported home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
Child safety in kitchens
The holidays can be a fun time of year to let kids help out in the kitchen. Remember these safety tips:
- Keep children at least 3 feet away from the stove, and never leave kids unattended in the kitchen.
- Ensure that pot and pan handles on stoves are turned inward to reduce the chance of accidental spills.
- Keep the floor clear so you don't trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
- Keep knives out of the reach of children.
- Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
- Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.