By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Cooking and decorating for the holidays are traditions in many homes, but the two can present safety hazards without necessary precautions.
The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. Enid Assistant Fire Marshal Todd Hays said paying attention is the key to preventing cooking fires and lessening the chances for a holiday disaster.
“Most of the time, these fires are caused by leaving the stove unattended,” Hays said. “Stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly and remain in the home while the food is cooking. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.”
Problems will be discovered more quickly if we stay in the kitchen while cooking, Hays said. Keep a lid and an oven mitt handy to put out fires.
“One of the best and safest ways to extinguish a fire in a pan is to carefully slide a lid over the pan to smother the fire, turn off the burner and don’t move the pan until it’s cool,” he said.
Holiday decorations also can add an element of risk to homes during the holiday season.
“Christmas trees are involved in a number of house fires every year,” said Hays. “Artificial trees should be flame retardant and display a UL, or Underwriter’s Laboratory, listing.”
Live trees can be a serious problem if not hydrated properly.
“Some trees can absorb up to a gallon of water each day and should be placed in a stand or container that provides ample water,” said Hays. “The water level should be checked on a daily basis.”
Lighting displays also should have the label of an independent testing laboratory.
Replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini-light sets in a series. Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. Make sure to blow out candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
For those entertaining over the holidays, Hays said to test smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
He said to ask smokers to keep their tobacco and matches and lighters with them at all times and not leave them on a shelf where children may have access.
Hosts with fire safety in mind should have smokers smoke outside and provide large, deep ashtrays. Hays said to ask smokers to wet cigarette butts with water before discarding them.