For many families the kitchen is the heart of the home during the holidays, where the family gathers to enjoy one another’s company and indulge in a delicious meal!
Before all of the fun begins, you’ve got to prepare all the dishes for the day – and mentally prepare for cleaning them all at the end of the night! Needless to say, cooking during the holidays can be stressful for the host. Stressful conditions in the kitchen can increase the chances of accidents and kitchen fires. We’ve got a few tips for you to keep in mind in the kitchen this holiday season so your family can enjoy a very merry and safe Christmas:
1. Never Leave Cooking Unattended
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) identified unattended cooking equipment as the leading factor behind home cooking fires. Never leave the kitchen while any hot equipment is being used. Remember to turn off your burners and stove when you are finished cooking.
2. Clear Stovetop and Oven of Grease and Oil
Do your best to keep cooking equipment clean and pristine because a buildup of grease and/or oil can easily ignite if it becomes too hot. Leftover grease and food can catch fire in the oven, on burners and on pots and pans.
Lower the heat when you notice smoke. If a grease fire occurs, turn off the heat source and attempt to cover it with a lid. NEVER attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water, it will only cause the fire to spread. If covering it isn’t effective, pour a whole package of baking soda onto it. As always, if you feel as though the fire is a dangerous one, call 911 immediately.
3. Keep Cooking Area Around Stove/Oven Free of Combustibles
While decorating for the holidays is charming, keep the décor away from cooking equipment! 9% of all cooking fires are caused by combustibles being placed too closely to a heat source. The general rule of thumb is to keep all combustibles a minimum of 3 feet away from cooking equipment. Avoid wearing loose fitted clothing while cooking and keep any potholders or dishtowels away from the stove and oven.
4. Exercise Crowd Control
Guests will congregate towards the kitchen, socializing and trying to assist you with cooking. Chaos in the kitchen can lead to a hectic atmosphere prone to accidents such as burns, grease spills, fires and cuts.
Limit the number of helpers you allow in the kitchen to ensure everyone has enough room to prepare their dishes safely and kindly encourage the remaining guests to move the party to another room until cooking is finished.
5. Make Sure Your Smoke Alarms Are Charged and Good to Go
Smoke alarms are one of your first lines of defense against a fire. Sometimes people might disconnect them because they are easily set off by cooking; other times the batteries might just be low. Experts recommend testing your smoke alarms once a month and replacing the batteries once a year. Even though they might be annoying at times, never neglect their purpose – they could save your life.
6. Prepare Some Dishes Ahead of Time
Depending on how extravagant your menu is for Christmas, you could be preparing several dishes at once on the big day! Do yourself a favor and prepare some of your sides ahead of time. You can prep the ingredients ahead of time by cutting, seasoning, zesting, etc. The less frantic the kitchen is at once, the better.
Christmas Day is the second leading day for home cooking fires in the U.S. By preparing yourself and your home before the holidays you can ensure your family will have another Christmas to remember, rather than one they want to forget.