Home fires more likely on Thanksgiving Day

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CHICAGO -- With ovens baking and skillets sizzling, Thanksgiving can be a hazardous day in the kitchen.

So much so that the National Fire Protection Association says Americans are twice as likely to have a home fire on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year because of the cooking.

Kitchens can be filled with inexperienced, busy or distracted chefs, said John Drengenberg, the consumer safety director at the Northbrook-based Underwriters Laboratories, a product safety testing organization. He offers the following advice for a safe holiday:

* Turn pot handles in, toward the stove.

* Take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen. This serves as a reminder that there are dishes that need monitoring. Always try to stay in the kitchen while food is cooking.

* Don't hold children while cooking. Fussy children can get too close to hot pans and plates.

* Don't wear loose-fitting clothing when cooking. For women, holiday time can mean frilly blouses, which could easily catch fire over a stove.

* Keep your cooking area free of clutter.

* Safety first. Families should have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers while cooking and discuss an escape plan if there is a fire. Underwriters Laboratories also recommends keeping a flame-resistant oven mitt, pot holder or lid nearby to smother any flames.

And as for those famous turkey fryers: Drengenberg says the product-testing group doesn't recommend them because the fryers present numerous safety hazards and there have been increasing reports of fires related to them.

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