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Keep safety in mind when cooking Thanksgiving feasts

The wife of retired Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Wisniewski demonstrates how to safely put out a stove fire with Jerame Bullard and Tech. Sgt. Kyle Pourciau, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighters, Oct. 8, 2014, outside of the Commissary at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.  Throughout fire prevention week the Keesler Fire Department conducted random fire drills, toured various facilities with Sparky the Fire Dog, passed out fire safety handouts and fire hats for children and provided stove and fire extinguisher demonstrations.  The week–long event ended with an open house at the fire station 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

The wife of retired Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Wisniewski demonstrates how to safely put out a stove fire with Jerame Bullard and Tech. Sgt. Kyle Pourciau, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighters, Oct. 8, 2014, outside of the Commissary at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Throughout fire prevention week the Keesler Fire Department conducted random fire drills, toured various facilities with Sparky the Fire Dog, passed out fire safety handouts and fire hats for children and provided stove and fire extinguisher demonstrations. The week–long event ended with an open house at the fire station 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries.  Every year hundreds of Americans die, thousands more are injured and roughly $500 million in property damage result from cooking fires.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 75 percent of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.  Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.  About 90 percent of all kitchen fires are due to unattended cooking, so stay in the kitchen when cooking, and if you must leave, even for a short time, turn the stove off.   Stay alert - don't attempt to cook if you're sleepy or have been drinking alcoholic beverages.

In case of a fire in your home while cooking, the base fire department recommends these actions:
· Put a lid on it. The easiest way to extinguish a small pan fire is with a pan lid. Turn off the burner to remove the heat source, and from the side, carefully slide a pan lid over the pan. The lid will smother the fire. Don't move the pan until the fire is completely extinguished and the pan is cool. If you don't have a lid, use a baking sheet or pizza pan.
· Never throw water on a pan fire. Putting water on a grease fire can splatter the fire and make it worse.
· Never use flour to extinguish a fire; flour will explode.
· Don't use baking soda on grease fires; it's not effective.
· Use an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire if you don't have a lid. For an oven fire, keep the door shut and turn off the heat. Don't open the door -- fresh air will make the fire larger.
· Turn handles of pots and pans in and away from hot burners. Use thick, dry, flame-resistant potholders when handling lids and pans.
· Wear short, close-fitting or tightly-rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto burners and catch fire.
· Keep cooking area clean and clear of combustibles such as potholders, towels, rags, drapes and food packaging.
· When deep frying a turkey, stay in the area at all times and ensure that you have a safe location to cook.
· Don't deep fry turkeys indoors, under overhangs or on a combustible surface.
· Don't overfill the cooking container with oil.  Follow instructions on the proper method to fill the cooking container and heat oil only to the recommended cooking temperature.
· Have fire extinguisher and cooking container lid handy. If oil catches fire, put on an oven mitt and cover the cooking container with lid. Shut off the burner and allow the container to cool down.
· Use a fire extinguisher to put out any fire outside the container. Don't stand too close to the container while discharging the fire extinguisher or oil can splatter, spreading fire and causing injuries.
· In the event of any fire or emergency, dial 911 immediately.  If you're using a cell phone on base to call, make sure you let emergency officials know that you're at Keesler.
· All fires are reportable -- small, large and even extinguished.
For more information, call the fire prevention office, 228-377-3330 or 228-377-3333.