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Don't Cook Up A Disaster On Turkey Day

Cooking is the leading cause of residential structure fires on Thanksgiving Day.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit (MMU) would like to provide you with a few simple safety tips to help prevent a cooking or residential fire in your home this holiday season.1. Never leave your stove, oven, or other cooking equipment unattended.
Many cooking fires are caused by people leaving food in the oven or on the stove and forgetting about it. Food left unattended is the leading factor of cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day and accounts for 30% of all cooking fires. Cooking is a very important activity that requires your undivided attention.

2. Never misuse cooking equipment.
Only use your cooking appliances for the function they were designed for. Do not over fill with cooking oil or place electric appliances on the stove top. Take care when placing materials near any heat source (an inherent part of cooking). Do not abandon or discard hot food, oil, pots or pans. Make sure all products are cool to the touch before you discard them.

3. Check all appliances regularly.
Gas lines should be checked for wear or damage. Check venting of gas appliances for leaks or obstructions. The equipment involved in cooking fires is most often the range.

4. Always have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.
Only 45% of the residential structure fires started by cooking had a smoke alarm present in the home. The fact that the alarms functioned properly and alerted the occupants may partly explain the lower rates of death and property loss in Thanksgiving Day cooking fires. Please check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms today.

5. Use caution when cooking with highly combustible materials.
Cooking materials, including food, are the first items to ignite and cause a fire. Specifically, oil, fat and grease are highly flammable and can splatter or spill during cooking. Not only can they ignite and start a fire they can cause serious burns.

Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water; place a cover on the pan, use a kitchen fire extinguisher or smother the fire with baking soda.

It is important to keep children away from hot oils, grease and fat. It is recommended to keep children at least three feet from all appliances or cooking zones. Remember to check all electrical cords on fryers to insure they are not hanging over the counter or a fire hazard themselves.

Other food, alcohol, starches and plastic can also ignite in addition to appliance casings and cooking utensils.

Cooking fires are preventable. Please follow these easy and straight forward safety steps that are provided for you to prevent cooking fires and protect you and your family from injury or loss during the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Long sleeves and loose fitting clothing should not be worn while cooking, as the cloth may ignite and cause serious injury. It this does happen remember to Stop; Drop and Roll immediately.

If you are in charge of cooking let someone else answer the telephone for you.

Finally, all homeowners and renters should ensure that they have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed and are in proper working order.

Please visit our web site at for additional information or feel free to stop by your nearest CAL FIRE station.

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