MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - “Kitchen fires are the leading cause of fires in the nation and the state,” said Mankato Senior Firefighter Jay Kopischke.
With Thanksgiving drawing millions of Americans to the kitchen each year, fire departments say there’s an annual influx in house fires across the nation.
Local fire departments say it’s important to know how to keep you and your family safe.
Craig Youngberg, Shift Commander of the Waseca Fire Department also weighed in, saying “It’s too easy to get distracted this time of year when you’re cooking, so you just sit and make sure you pay attention.”
Unattended cooking is the number one cause of the fires, so paying attention to what you’re cooking is crucial to kitchen safety. It’s also important to keep items that may burn away from your cooking surfaces.
“Oven mitts, towels, wooden spoons, even plastic spatulas, we want to make sure that those things are away from the stove and don’t accidentally catch fire,” Kopischke listed. Frying frozen turkeys is another big risk associated with Thanksgiving. “The moisture in the turkey reacts to the hot oil, and it’s similar to putting water on a grease fire. It expands and overflows and then causes an ignition with the burner.” The fire departments urge those who are frying the birds to make sure their turkey is properly thawed.
If you do encounter a kitchen fire, there are steps you can take to minimize the damage. “If you have a cooking fire that’s contained to your pot, you can simply put a lid on it. If you’re unable to do that, we want to evacuate everyone from the house, we want to call 911 and get a fire department there as soon as possible,” added Kopischke.
Even if you are able to put the fire out yourself, it is still a good idea to call the fire department. Youngberg said, “We have tools in our disposal that we can check heat and make sure that nothing’s advanced anywhere, but still call the fire department.”
Staying attentive and keeping flammables away are critical to reducing the increase in house fires each Thanksgiving.
“It is something that continues to come up year, year, and year again. It’s something we can all work on to increase the safety in our home,” Kopischke mentioned.