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The City of Portland, Oregon

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Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

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SafetyTIPS: Holiday Cooking


Holiday Cooking

The holidays can be hectic at work and at home. With everything that’s happening in our lives, it's very easy to place that pan on the stove and get sidetracked. You forget about it until the fire starts and the smoke alarm goes off. If you're still home, you need to react quickly.  It’s always a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher available in or near your kitchen.  

If You Fry a Turkey

  • Fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level non-combustible surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
  • Never use a fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or enclosed space.
  • Do not overfill the fryer (follow manufacturer’s directions).
  • Never leave the fryer unattended because, without thermostat controls, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use or after use as the oil can remain hot for hours.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and wear long sleeves and safety goggles to protect from splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before it is placed in a fryer.  Unthawed turkey contains frozen moisture and when placed in hot oil the moisture will expand as it turns quickly to steam and cause the hot oil to boil over violently. 

Dry Cooking Fires

The most common type of cooking fire is the dry cooking fire. The water or moisture boils out of the pan and the food left in the pan scorches, producing smoke. The heat may sometimes damage the surrounding area. The smoke may leave a residue and an odor.  The pan is hot so use a well insulated glove or hot pad to move it outdoors to a non-combustible surface like concrete sidewalk, never to a wooden deck or porch. 
Grease Fires 
Grease fires can occur when oil or grease type foods are heated and ignite. A grease fire can do significant damage. Open flames can extend to surrounding cabinets or other combustible items. If unnoticed, a grease fire can extend to a major house fire, engulfing the entire kitchen, adjacent rooms or even the attic. This becomes a dangerous life-threatening fire.

You might be able to extinguish a grease fire on the stove in several different ways. The simplest way is to place a lid on the pan and the fire should suffocate. A large amount of baking soda can also be used to extinguish a grease fire. But if the flames are too high, don't risk getting burned.  Once you have the fire extinguished, don't forget to turn off the burner. 
Oven Fires

During an oven fire, the fire is usually contained right in the oven which is designed for high heat anyway. The oven fire usually suffocates or is easily extinguished.

What can you do if there is a kitchen fire?

  • In all cases, make sure everyone evacuates the house.
  • Call 9-1-1 and report the fire.
  • If the fire is still very small, you can use a fire extinguisher to try and put it out.  But if the fire gets out of control, get out of the house and wait for firefighters to arrive.  
  • Don’t delay calling 9-1-1 in order to fight the fire yourself.  

November 23, 2009


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