How to avoid cooking, home-heating fires this holiday season

How to avoid cooking, home-heating fires this holiday season
How to avoid cooking, home-heating fires this holiday season

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. — As we head into the winter months, this time of year sees a spike in the number of house fires. The causes can range from home heating to cooking.

With this cold snap approaching, we want to stay warm, but there are ways to do that while staying safe.

Fire Marshal Mike Nobles from Sand Springs Fire Department told 2 News Oklahoma one of the biggest home heating risks is the improper use of space heaters.

“If you do have to use space heaters in your home, if you don’t have central heat and air, or you need to supplement that a little bit, provide a three-foot space around those space heaters,” he explained. “Follow the manufacturer’s directions, as odd as that sounds.”

Nobles said you will definitely want to read the heater’s manual from the manufacturer. A lot of times, they will give you tips on keeping the devices away from combustible materials — such as paper, furniture, bedding, and clothing.

Nobles emphasized that you will also want to keep that heater on a hard, noncombustible surface like wood or tile, with at least three feet of space around it.

Meanwhile, where and how you plug heaters in can also become hazardous if you’re not careful.

“Space heaters, in particular, draw a very large amperage,” said Nobles, “and they should always be plugged directly into the wall outlet, and never into an extension cord, never into a power strip.”

“And if you keep having that breaker trip,” he added, “don’t keep resetting it. Just take that heater out of service and be on the safe side with that.”

Many will be cooking dinner this week, but there are common cooking hazards that can quickly lead to house fires and personal injury.

Here’s how you can keep kitchen hazards from ruining your holiday fun.

The National Fire Protection Association said one day in 2021 saw a roughly 300% jump in home cooking fires nationwide. To little surprise, that day was Thanksgiving.

Nobles said there are a few ways to prevent that. One of those is not to leave your cooking unattended.

“It’s one of the things that we see causing more home cooking fires than anything else,” he said. “Starting that oven and starting the stove, walking away, leaving things going while you’re in another room with family and friends. Grease boils over. Now we have a grease fire.”

Nobles brought up some other points.

Things such as crockpots, skillets, electrical cords, and especially things with handles sticking out — keep everything back away from the edges where kids can’t reach them, especially with all those nieces, nephews, and cousins ​​running around.

And since it’s that time of year again, some of you might try your hand at deep-frying a turkey. But here are some ways to not fry your hand.

Nobles said if you’re using an oil-based fryer, like most people do, that oil is flammable and can cause issues if you spill it.

Always thaw your turkey completely because oil and water do not mix.

Make sure you have the proper level of oil in your fryer. Then, gently place the turkey in the fryer to avoid splashing — and do not leave your cooking unattended. He also says to keep it away from the house and on a non-combustible surface like the driveway or sidewalk. He suggests 20 to 30 feet away from the home.

“And if you do have a fire with the turkey fryer,” he cautioned, “don’t spray water on it. Water and grease don’t mix. Use a dry chemical extinguisher, preferably a class k that’s designed for grease fires is ideal.”

Nobles added that if you’re missing one of those, the typical ABC dry chemical extinguisher most people have in their house will do the trick.

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