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Safety

More home cooking for the holidays could mean unexpected fires

Cooking risks
John Palminteri
Preparing a holiday meal wrong, including the misuse of a turkey fryer can lead to a serious problem. Carpinteria-Summerland firefighters demonstrated the risk. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Cooking risks
John Palminteri
Preparing a holiday meal wrong, including the misuse of a turkey fryer can lead to a serious problem. Carpinteria-Summerland firefighters demonstrated the risk. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Cooking risks
John Palminteri
Preparing a holiday meal wrong, including the misuse of a turkey fryer can lead to a serious problem. Carpinteria-Summerland firefighters demonstrated the risk. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Cooking risks
John Palminteri
Preparing a holiday meal wrong, including the misuse of a turkey fryer can lead to a serious problem. Carpinteria-Summerland firefighters demonstrated the risk. (Photo: John Palminteri)

CARPINTERIA, Calif. - With more people cooking at home this holiday season -- in part due to COVID-19 travel warnings -- kitchen and fryer fires are serious concerns.

Firefighters demonstrated ways to misuse an oil-filled fryer at the Carpinteria-Summerland headquarters Wednesday morning. The plan was to show an overfilled fryer, full over-heated oil and a turkey drop that caused dangerous splashing.

The demonstration did show the pot bubbling over and hot oil going in all directions including down where the flame was burning.

A massive fireball, however, did not erupt.

Credit was given to the modern design of the large fryers, which have more safety designs than in the past. Years ago when turkeys were dunked in hot oil, it would send the oil over the side and in many cases a fire would start.

In a garage, on a patio deck, or in a structure where there are items that can easily catch on fire, making a cooking mistake can cause a spreading fire, fast.

Carpinteria Fire Marshal Rob Rappaport says if you are you are using a turkey fryer, "We don't want them inside garages, we don't want them out on patios and certainly not nearby combustible items."

He says condo patios are often a dangerous spot if a fire begins because it can be a multi-unit concern.

For someone camping, you will need to make sure dry leaves are cleared out and there's no low overhanging tree limbs.

In addition to having a structure fire risk, personal injuries have also been reported from the hot, splattering oil.

"Cooking fires are one of  the highest probability of fires that occur within a residence," said Rappaport.

A turkey that's not completely dry is also a problem.

"That's going to react to the hot oil," said Rappaport.

Once the turkey went into the demonstration pot, over loaded with hot oil, it didn't take long to be a dangerous scene. Even though a massive fire did not break out in this instance, it was a boiling hot mess near a live flame.

Narrating the demo, Rappaport said, "it's bubbling, it's overflowing, it is certainly dangerous. We've got an open flame underneath. The best thing to do is get the lid back on if it's possible because you want to  smother it and keep it inside the pot."

Water should not be used on a grease fire. Instead a chemical fire extinguisher is the best response.

The fire department also says don't hesitate to call 911 for help early on.

Cooking safety tips:

  1. Pay close attention to your cooking plan, especially when frying, baking, broiling and grilling. Leaving the cooking area, such as your kitchen, even for a short time, might be when a problem occurs.
  2. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen. You should have one on each level of your home, even if it is not a sleeping area. Replace batteries regularly.
  3. Keep kids and pets away from stoves or ovens when they are on.
  4. Don't wear loose clothing while cooking. They could dangle near flame sources leading to injuries. Wear protective clothing including gloves.
  5. Use timers and alarms to help you check on the cooking process.
  6. Keep cooking areas clean of excessive grease and clear of items that can burn, such as paper towels, packaging and wooden utensils.
  7. Double check that all stoves and ovens are off before leaving your home or going to sleep.
  8. Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it properly.
  9. Have a first aid kit in your home and car.
  10. Watch cooking and safety videos on line if you are unsure about any aspect of your cooking preparation.
Entertainment / Events / Fire / Holidays / House & Home / Lifestyle / Outdoors / Santa Barbara - South County

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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