Make Safety Your Main Ingredient in Holiday Cooking
State Farm Releases Top 10 States for Cooking/Grease Fire Losses
Oil and water do not mix. You've heard it a thousand times. But unfortunately, this common knowledge is often forgotten in the heat of the moment.
A State Farm customer in Atlanta recently left a pan on the stove unattended, and it caught fire. They forgot the adage and attempted to put out the fire by throwing water on it. While nobody was hurt, the damage increased.
"The result was $9,000 in insured damages to the stove, cabinets, countertops and floor," said their agent Ken Anderson, of Alpharetta, Georgia. “You should never use water to try and put out a grease fire."
It could have been worse. The average State Farm cooking/grease fire claim in the U.S. was more than $48,000 in 2018.
Georgia is the top state for cooking fire losses. Anderson has seen at least two dozen cooking-related fire claims in his 38 years as an agent. Many were made worse when oil and water mixed.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires. One out of three home fires begins in the kitchen - more than any other place in the home. Unattended cooking is the number one cause of kitchen fires. NFPA data shows that Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
The oil and water pitfalls are not reserved to the kitchen. Last year, around Thanksgiving, one of Ken's customers attempted to fry a frozen turkey. In addition to not having thawed the bird, the customer had too much oil in the fryer. When he dropped the turkey in, the hot oil spilled over, leaving him with second degree burns and a damaged deck.
Among the advice Ken shares with customers?
“Make sure you have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers that are up to date,” he said. “And, keep a cooking or grease fire-approved fire extinguisher nearby when cooking or frying.”
It pays to follow the advice. In 2018, State Farm paid more than $118 million for nearly 2,500 cooking/grease fire homeowners* claims across the U.S.
*Note: excludes renters and condo unit claims.
Because many families and friends engage in cooking during the holidays, it is important to follow some basic safety tips:
- Always keep an eye on what you are cooking/frying. Never leave the cooking area unattended.
- Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
- Keep a lid beside the pan when cooking. If a fire starts, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Never throw water on a grease fire.
- Keep a fire extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires nearby. Make sure your smoke alarms are working.
Mouse over (or touch on mobile) the + on the interactive image below to see the safety tips.
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