Holiday Cooking Can Claim Your Kitchen
During Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, fire claims almost double according to State Farm® data
Bloomington, Ill. (November 19, 2015) — Annually, hundreds of homes sustain smoke and fire damage from cooking fires, but these incidents increase dramatically during the holiday season. Because many families and friends gather in the kitchen during the holidays it is important to follow some cooking safety tips to keep your kitchen free of fire risks and hazards.
Chef Alejandra Schrader and State Farm share how to cook up a delicious holiday recipe while staying safe in the kitchen. Alejandra's culinary training started during her childhood years in Venezuela alongside her mother and grandmother who also taught her the basics of kitchen safety.
"Cooking is such an important part of our families and Hispanic traditions, but being aware of how easily a fire could start is also important. That's why I'm excited to work with State Farm to share easy ways to stay safe while still bringing the family into the heart of the home," said Chef Alejandra. "Whether making everyday meals or preparing a special holiday recipe for tamales, my family observed safe kitchen practices so that everyone, including children, could participate in the process."
In November and December of 2014, State Farm received an average of 18 claims daily related to cooking fires. That number nearly doubled on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. While claims associated with holiday cooking fires have not increased since 2013, damage to property and risk of injury remains. In addition, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 1,000 home structure fires every day and more than two of every five (43 percent) reported home fires from 2009-2013 started in the kitchen or cooking area.
Oil is a key item found in the majority of today's kitchens. Whether a recipe calls for frying or sautéing, we include oil in almost all of our daily cooking. A study published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found 75 percent of range or stove fires started with food ignitions. Forty-three percent began with cooking oil; 33 percent started with fish or meat. Sixty-three percent of the range or stove fires beginning with food occurred when someone was frying.
As the family gathers around the kitchen this season, here are some easy steps for cooking safety and a Recipe4Safety card you can download for your own kitchen.
Cooking in the Kitchen Safety Tips
- The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It's important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.
- Have a "kid-free zone" of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop
- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, boiling or broiling food
- Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water on a kitchen fire.
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
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About Chef Alejandra Schrader
Alejandra Schrader is the owner and head chef of Alejandra's Natural Foods, a private chef business and the brand behind her Seasoning Blends. Known as "The Queen of Spice," she's one of the pro-chefs featured on NBC's primetime show Food Fighters. In 2011, she captured the hearts of Master Chef fans on season two of the hit FOX TV show. Passionate about food, she embarked on a journey to create and develop nutritious dishes with bold flavors and textures. Her blog Cook Global. Eat at Home! allows her to share healthy recipes with followers and fellow foodies. With her vibrant genuine love for food, Alejandra has traveled around the U.S. and abroad to support the work of small farmers and to promote healthy eating, biodiversity, and sustainable farming practices. She currently works as an Ambassador for Oxfam America.