By Frank Lewis
You probably already know that the biggest cooking time of the year is at Thanksgiving and that great family event is coming up this week. In an exclusive interview with the Community Common, (Ohio) State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers said there are some precautions you can take to lower the chances of a fire disaster occurring while you are cooking that Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
“That’s one of the holidays we all look so forward to for that great meal and some wonderful football and the family,” Flowers said. “Oftentimes we do see an uptick in kitchen fires. There’s a lot of people cooking meals. It’s one of the largest days for cooking fires because we just have a lot of folks cooking that special meal.”
Flowers said it is imperative that you never leave cooking unattended.
“Keep kids away. Keep pets away,” Flowers said. “The thing that my grandma always taught me was, turn those handles in. Those pots and pans on the stove, turn those handles inward so they can’t easily be knocked off if you happen to walk by the stove.”
Flowers said it is also important to be careful what type of clothing you are wearing when cooking.
“If it’s a long-sleeve shirt, make sure it’s not too loose fitting,” Flowers said. “Often we find people who get a burn injury because they’re wearing too loose fitting clothes too close to the stove.”
Flowers noted the weekend is ushering in the really cold weather, and that often means fires.
“What we often see when the weather changes, people oftentimes use alternative heating sources,” Flowers said. “That could be a fireplace; it could be another wood-burning stove; it could be a space heater such as a kerosene heater or electric heaters, And what we see a lot of time is those heaters are placed too close to combustible material. The heater in the bedroom is too close to the bed. The heater in the family room is too close to a sofa or a chair or curtains. We often see those getting ignited because they’re just plain too close to that alternative heating source.”
Flowers said there is a way to remember the hazards – “space heaters need their space.” He said people should place heaters at least three feet away from any combustible material.
Flowers can precautions include know how your heating source works. That begins with having a professional inspect their furnace to make sure it is proper working order.
“If they’re going to use some space heater, whether it’s kerosene or electric, use them per the manufacturer’s instructions,” Flowers said. “What males don’t like to do is read the instructions, but we encourage people to do that to be aware of how a particular heating unit works. Don’t leave them unattended. Don’t go away, even outside, and leave them unattended. Make sure you have someone around those items all the time and make sure we keep our youngsters and pets away from them.”
Your local fire department is a great resource for more information and resources, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them. You can also find information by visiting our website – www.com.state.oh.us/fire – or calling the Fire Prevention Bureau at 888-243-0305.
“As we head into winter, please help me keep Ohio safe, sound and secure,” Flowers said. “Spending a few minutes now on fire safety can save a life.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.