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Safe practices for holiday cooking

Posted December 18, 2013 in Advice Column

Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home injuries.

Based on data from State Farm, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. The good news is that State Farm cooking fire claims on Thanksgiving Day have been reduced from 66 claims in 2010 to 29 claims in 2012, the lowest number of claims in a decade.

While the reduction is significant, the fact remains there are still injuries and damage to property as a result of turkey frying or cooking fires each year. November is the No. 1 month for grease and cooking-related fires. Regardless if the person frying the bird is experienced or a novice, everyone should take appropriate safety precautions prior to frying.

Most turkey fryer and cooking fires are preventable. Recognizing common mistakes  is a critical step in reducing your risk of a fire or potentially fatal burns. Before you break out your bird this holiday season, remember to do it right.

Cooking safety tips
The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.
•    Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or  carried.
•    Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
•    Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.

Turkey fryer safety tips
More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors at a safe distance from any buildings or trees and keep the fryer off any wooden structures such as a deck or patio.
•    Avoid a hot oil spill over by first filling the pot with cold oil and then lower the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be either added or removed.
•    Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.
•    Make sure your turkey is properly thawed before lowering it slowly into the pot.
•    Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
•    Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.
•    Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.

Have a happy and safe holiday season from all of us here at Jerry Goebel State Farm.

Information provided by Jerry Goebel, State Farm Insurance, 1209 Superior St., Webster City. For more information, call 515-832-4066.

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