Don't Keep Home Fires Burning Today

The National Fire Protection Association offered its "Home Cooking Fire Pattern and Trends, July 2006" report as a free download for members at the same time it released a fact sheet on cooking fires last week. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires in the United States, and NFPA said the public must keep safety in mind when preparing holiday meals.

In 2005, cooking fires were involved in roughly 1,300 reported home structure fires on Thanksgiving, which is almost three times higher than the daily average for such fires, according to the association. And cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, with more than $500 million in direct property damage to homes and belongings annually.

"It can be easy to get wrapped up in entertaining guests, but it is important to remember to monitor meal preparation closely as most cooking fires start because cooking has been left unattended," NFPA said. Other tips include: Turn off the oven or stove if you must leave the home for even a short period of time; if you are simmering, baking, boiling, or roasting food, check it regularly and remain in the home while the food is cooking; don't cook if you are sleepy, have been drinking alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy; keep things that will burn (pot holders, oven mitts, paper, plastic) off your stovetop and do not store things that can burn in an oven, microwave, or toaster oven; clean food and grease off burners, stovetops, and ovens; wear clothing with sleeves that are short, close fitting, or tightly rolled up; keep kids away from cooking areas; use a stove's back burners whenever possible and turn pot handles inward; and never hold a small child while cooking.

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