State Fire Marshal Mark Wallace is reminding Oregonians to practice fire safety when cooking and preparing holiday meals. “Every year cooking-related fires increase during the holidays,” Wallace said. “But, by following simple safety steps you can keep loved ones from experiencing a cooking-related fire tragedy. From 2007 through 2011, there were more than 3,661 cooking-related fires in Oregon causing seven deaths, 224 civilian injuries, and more than $29 million in property loss. Wallace said turkey frying is particularly dangerous not only for causing fires, but also for serious burns from hot oil. He said simple ground rules include keeping a close eye on all cooking and establish a “kid free zone” around stoves and areas where hot foods or drinks are being prepared. Grease fires are best put out by suffocation, with something like a large pan lid. Never put water on a grease fire. Fire officials say every kitchen should also have a fire extinguisher handy. Also, make 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.
The Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) agrees with officials from Underwriters Laboratories that deep fat turkey fryers are dangerous and present numerous safety hazards. The OSFM does not recommend the use of deep fat turkey fryers. However, we also recognize families are increasingly choosing this method to prepare their turkey. If you use a fryer, the OSFM urges you to use extreme caution.”If you’re cooking your turkey in a deep fat fryer, always do it outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable material, and never leave it unattended,” Marshall advised. “Hot oil is extremely dangerous, so never use turkey fryers on a wooden deck or in your garage.”