Each year, hundreds of homes are damaged by fires, and the risk increases dramatically during the holidays. As families and friends gather this time of year, Cape Coral State Farm Agents Mike and Dawn Sullivan offer important tips to help keep your loved ones safer throughout the holiday season.
“Cooking is the top cause of home fires, especially around the holidays,” said Dawn Sullivan. “About one in three house fires starts in the kitchen, and typically they start because of unattended cooking.”
The average State Farm cooking/grease fire claim in the U.S. was more than $48,000 in 2018. On Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, fire claims nearly double, according to State Farm® data. The State Farm agents offer some simple tips and a Recipe4Safety card that homeowners can download and hang in their kitchens.
“Don’t let cooking fires ruin your celebration,” said Mike Sullivan. “Cooking is such a big part of family traditions and the holidays, so it’s important to be aware of how easily a fire can start. There are many ways you can keep the kitchen safe so everyone, including children, can participate.”
The Sullivans offer these tips to reduce the risk of a holiday kitchen fire:
- Use timers and remain in the kitchen while cooking. Whether you are frying, boiling or baking doesn’t matter, home cooks must always be present and alert.
- If you feel sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the oven or stovetop.
- Make sure the cooking area is clear of anything that can catch fire, like oven mitts, wooden cooking utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains.
- Always make sure you have working smoke detectors, which should be at least 10 feet from the stove.
Oil is a staple in the kitchen and frying is the most frequent culprit of stove fires. If you see oil smoking or if it smells, turn the burner off and remove the pan, as these are signs that the oil is too hot. Oil should be heated slowly, and food gently placed in the pan to avoid spattering. Have the matching lid for the pan nearby so you can cover it in case of fire. Remember that oil and water do not mix. Never use water to put out a grease fire. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Keep a cooking or grease fire-approved fire extinguisher nearby. If the fire doesn’t go out or you don’t feel comfortable, get everyone out of the home and call 9-1-1 once you are outside.
“Many holiday fires involving a fryer start in the garage or on the patio,” said Mike Sullivan. “Frying a turkey, or any outdoor cooking, should be done on a flat level surface, and never on wooden structures like decks. Make sure the turkey is properly thawed and remember to shut off the fuel source/flame when adding the turkey to hot oil. This helps to prevent flare-ups, which can occur if oil spills over the rim. Never, never leave the fryer unattended.”
Fryers should be kept at least 10 feet away from buildings, trees and other objects. General cooking and fire safety also involves keeping a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around any areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, SAFE holiday season, the Sullivan State Farm team is here to help, whether you’re currently covered or looking to determine the best insurance options for your unique circumstances. Call the Sullivan State Farm Agency at 239-541-3276 or visit the agents’ websites: mikesullivan1.com or dawnsullivan.net.