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From Safety Experts to Cooking Amateurs: A Few Tips to Avoid Holiday Fires

Many cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day are caused by grease buildup or loose clothing near the stove. (Photo credit:

According to the US Fire Administration, about 2,000 residential fires take place on Thanksgiving Day each year across the US.  And over two-thirds of those holiday fires are caused by mishaps in the kitchen. KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson has this safety report on how to avoid kitchen accidents over the holidays.

 Those statistics don’t shine the best light on Americans’ cooking abilities…but there’s no ignoring that the kitchen is the setting of more Thanksgiving fires than any other room in the home.

 So, a few precautions before you don your chef’s hat and dust off that spice rack.

 Nigel Holderby is a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, Southern Missouri Region. She says before you begin cooking, get rid of the distractions.

 “If you have your family over, and you have the kids, and they’re wanting attention, just [make] sure you do keep children away from the cooking area.  And really enforce that as a kids-free zone,” Holderby said.

 She says Thanksgiving chefs should always use a timer, and make sure the timer is “on.”

 "Another thing to think about is, don’t wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves—something that might get in your burners when you’re cooking,” Holderby advises. 

That also goes for pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and paper and plastic bags—keep it all far from the stove.

A little bit of pre-holiday cleaning wouldn’t hurt, either—grease buildup can easily lead to cooking fires. You should also have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen, and always stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food.  

And lastly, if you have a Smartphone, you might want to just go ahead and download the Red Cross First Aid app, which teaches you how to handle emergencies, just in case.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Davidson.