Add Fire Safety to Your Holiday To-Do List

Though Thanksgiving may look different for many Oregonians this year, State Fire Marshal Mariana-Ruiz-Temple is asking residents to put cooking fire safety on their to-do list for the holiday.

“Thanksgiving remains a time to give thanks and enjoy the holiday with your family,” said Ruiz-Temple. “Basic fire-prevention tips for the kitchen can keep everyone safe while avoiding preventable cooking-related fires.”

Home structure fire data collected in Oregon each year highlight the importance of prioritizing cooking safety. For 2019, cooking was the leading cause of home structure fires, accounting for 19 percent of all reported incidents.

On average, there are 555 cooking-caused residential structure fires in Oregon per year.

Statewide the range/stove was the most frequently reported equipment involved in cooking fires. Of these, 71 percent were from an electric powered range/stove.

All told, there were six deaths in Oregon from residential cooking fires during the past five years, or an average of slightly more than one death per year.

As we enter the holiday season, the Office of State Fire Marshal wants to encourage everyone to take extra fire safety precautions in the kitchen to ensure their holiday is fire safe and memorable.

Cooking safety tips:

  • Don’t leave cooking food on your stovetop unattended, especially when frying and sautéing with oil.
  • While your turkey is cooking, don’t leave your home and check on it frequently.
  • Use a timer to monitor cooking times when simmering, baking, or roasting foods that require long cooking times. Check the stove or oven frequently.
  • Remember to keep items that may catch fire, like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels, at least three feet from the cooking area.
  • Roll up your shirt sleeves and avoid using clothing that may come in contact with open flames or other heat sources. 
  • Don’t cook if you are drinking alcohol or using other substances that make you drowsy.
  • Let your kids have fun cooking with you, but keep them three feet or more away from all cooking areas, hot food, and liquids to avoid burns

If you have a cooking fire:

  • Always keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires. Smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and don’t move the pan until it is completely cool.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire; it can splatter the grease and spread the fire.
  • In the event of a fire in your oven or microwave, turn the appliance off and keep the doors closed.
  • When in doubt, get out! Call 9-1-1 after you leave.

Because holiday fire safety includes the whole home as well as the kitchen, be sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in every bedroom. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace them if they are 10 years old or older.