Fire Safety: Main Ingredient in Holiday Meals - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Fire Safety: Main Ingredient in Holiday Meals

MARYLAND - As everyone prepares to sit down for holiday meals with family and friends, the Maryland State Fire Marshal is warning Marylanders of important tips to keep their families safe.

"Holidays are a time of celebration. Please follow some simple guidelines to ensure a fire safe holiday meal," said Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.

Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly by testing them, said Geraci. He adds you should ensure your guests are aware of all available exits if a fire would occur and have them meet at a designated location outside the building.

The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking, according to the state fire marshal's office. Geraci says you should stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

Another tip to keep your family safe during the holiday season is to establish a "kids and pets free zone," according to Geraci, around any area where hot foods or drinks are prepared. The state fire marshal's office suggests having activities that keep kids out of the kitchen during this busy time. Provide games, puzzles, books, etc. outside of the kitchen to keep them busy. Kids can get involved with preparations with recipes that can be made outside of the kitchen. Just in case, ensure you turn handles inward on the stove and countertop to avoid spills.

You should also be alert while cooking, according to the state fire marshal's office. You should avoid consuming any alcoholic beverages while preparing the meal.

Another tip is to keep a lid nearby when you are cooking to smother small grease fires. According to the state fire marshal's office, you can smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it has cooled.

Keep anything combustible, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, etc. away from the stovetop. And eliminate clutter in the kitchen. A clean work area allows for better efficiency and less chances for mishaps.

You should also keep matches and lighters out of reach of curious children's hands. Place them out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet or drawer.

Do not leave lit candles unattended or in places where they could be knocked over by children or pets.

If you're cooking a turkey using a turkey fryer, there are other safety tips you should know:

     Many turkey fryer appliances can be easily tipped over, allowing for hot oil spillage. Ensure you place them on a hard, level and non-combustible outdoor surface.

·   Do not place a turkey fryer under an overhang or temporary roof. A flare up can easily ignite materials above the appliance. Turn off the burner while placing the turkey inside the pot of hot oil.

·   Partially frozen turkeys can cause a spill over and cause a flare up. Thoroughly thaw the turkey before cooking.

·   Constantly monitor the temperature of the oil. It can easily reach temperatures to the point of combustion.

·   Be careful not to overfill the fryer. Follow manufacturer's guidelines for proper filling levels.

·   The handles and lid will get dangerously hot. Use well insulated potholders or oven mitts.

·   Never leave the fryer unattended while cooking. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher on hand. Do not use water in an attempt to extinguish a grease fire.

The State Fire Marshal says following these simple guidelines for fire and life safety, will help to ensure a tragedy free holiday meal. 

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