The turkey is on fire

Can you believe that it is Thanksgiving already? 2011 has truly been a blur for me. After a stop off in Maryland for a wedding, my wife and I will head to West Virginia, where we have spent most of our Thanksgivings over the last 28 years. Many of you will gather with family and enjoy a meal. Our church will serve its annual community Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, November 19 from 2-4 PM. We will follow that with our Monday night dinner at 5:30. Though these will have passed when you read this article, I would encourage you to think beyond yourself and serve someone else during this holiday season. God’s word tells us that we have been blessed to be a blessing, why not put it into practice.

I know that you’re saying, but what about the title? You know that I take every opportunity to remind you that cooking-related fires are the leading cause of residential fires in Chesterfield County, the State of Virginia, and the United States of America. We started seeing the cooking of turkeys as an issue with the introduction of deep frying turkeys. I happen to be one that loves a good deep-fried turkey. However, turkey plus hot cooking oil plus water from anywhere equals disaster. It is not only the turkey that causes issues. Anything cooked in the oven, the microwave or on the stovetop can cause a problem if not carefully attended to. The bottom line is that cooking provides two of the legs of the fire triangle, heat and oxygen, leaving only the fuel to be added and a fire will occur.

Since we are talking about cooking-related fires, let me remind you how to handle a grease fire. If a grease fire occurs, turn the oven or burner off if it is safe to do so. In other words, will I get burned if I attempt to do this? If the pan or skillet is in the oven, do not open the oven door. If the pan or skillet is on the stovetop, do not attempt to move it. Cover the pan or skillet with a top, which amounts to anything that will cover the entire pan, a cookie sheet, or a larger lid. The cover will smother the fire by cutting the oxygen. The pan will continue to smoke, but do not move it or remove the cover. Remember, the heat and the fuel are still present; air will allow the fire to re-ignite. I cannot tell you the number of times we saw people burned because they attempted to move the pan or skillet outside. Once you have done these things, call 9-1-1, if someone else has not done so while you were dealing with the pan on fire. I did not mention a fire extinguisher, but it is a proper means of extinguishment, as long as it is designed to extinguish a Class B fire.

One-third of the residential fires start in the kitchen. Part of cooking should be the necessary steps taken to prevent a fire and the plan of action, in the event of a fire. Let me remind you that dishtowels are not potholders. You will want to replace the battery in the smoke alarm closest to the kitchen; you know, the one that you removed because it goes off every time that you cook. If the detector is in the wrong place, then move it, do not disable it.       


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