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The Deer Park Community

Unsafe cooking could be a recipe for holiday disaster

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in Community

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As Deer Park residents prepare to give thanks this week, Fire Marshal Buddy Rice offers tips to keep the Deer Park Fire Department from being unwanted guests at what would be left of the dinner table. He said Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times for fire departments across the nation.

While families across the country gather for their Thanksgiving traditions, fire departments are preparing for traditions of their own, namely fires and accidents related to cooking the holiday meals.

Deer Park Fire Marshal Buddy Rice said calls for emergency fire and medical services rise beginning around Thanksgiving.

“More cooking fires happen as the holidays get started,” Rice said. “We are cooking a lot of things in the kitchen and a lot of people are usually around. We tend to get distracted and distracted cooking causes fires.”

Cooking fires account for almost 46 percent of residential building fires, said Rice. While accidents do happen, he said even more danger can occur when residents attempt to extinguish the fire themselves.

“Most people try to throw water on a grease fire or try to move a pan from the stove to the sink. That gets grease everywhere and spreads the fire,” he said.

He advises anyone in the kitchen to stay alert and not leave any candles, cooking or baking unattended.

If the fire happens in an over, Rice advises to not open the oven.

“Leave the oven closed, turn off the heat source, get outside and call the fire department. Once you open the oven, you’re giving more oxygen to the fire and it’s getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

For small cooking fires, cover the fire and smother it from oxygen and be prepared to call the fire department

Families who opt to fry their Thanksgiving turkey should know what they are doing and use the proper equipment.

“Use devices designed for that purpose and never use them indoors or in the garage,” Rice said. “A quick internet search of “turkey fryer accidents” can show you how quickly this can become a serious problem.”

Cooking fires can be especially catastrophic because victims do not immediately think to call the fire department.

“There will be times when the victims are angry because they said it took the fire department 20 minutes to arrive on the scene. The truth is it took 10 minutes for someone to call the fire department in the first place because they are trying to put the fire out on their own and no one thought to call the fire department,” he said. “If you try to self-extinguish and you don’t know what you’re doing, that can be very dangerous.”

He said fires can double in size by the minute, making it imperative that the fire department is contacted as soon as possible.

Rice said fire holiday fire hazards are not limited to the kitchen. He cautions residents against overloading electrical outlets and extension cords.

“Also, don’t use cords that are worn or frayed. Throw them out and get new ones,” he said.

Rice said it not only is important to keep fire extinguishers on hand, they should be located near exits so that there is a place to fight the fire and retreat.

Once a home has been evacuated from a fire, it is time to “get out and stay out,” said Rice.

“More people die in fires after they have safely left the home and then return back to get something. There’s nothing more important than your safety,” he said.

“Everyone in the house no matter how old they are need to know that when they get out of a burning house, they need to stay out and they need to know where to meet everyone so everyone is accounted for” Rice said.