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ACFD: Distracted Cooking Is Top Thanksgiving Fire Hazard

By ARLnow.com - ARLNow.com

Wednesday - 11/21/2012, 1:15pm  ET

Normally around this time of year, readers and watchers of local news are bombarded with warnings about the dangers of turkey fryers. Those dangers still exist — see below — but the Arlington County Fire Department says there’s another Thanksgiving danger that often goes un-publicized: distracted cooking.

“Burnt food or food on the stove calls are more frequent than turkey fryer incidents,” ACFD spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl told ARLnow.com. “Distracted cooking is hazardous.”

Distracted cooking leads to almost daily fire-related calls to houses and apartment buildings in Arlington. Most food-on-the-stove calls just result in lots of smoke or minor fires that are quickly extinguished, but some can lead to full-scale fires.

The department offered the following cooking safety tips for the holidays and beyond.

Don’t be distracted while cooking. Guests and other distractions can take your attention from cooking which could result in a fire or injury. Don’t leave any cooking unattended.

Wear short sleeves or fitted sleeves. Loose fitting sleeves can contact heat sources and catch fire.

Turn pot and pan handles away from the stoves edge to prevent burns and scalds.

If you are going to fry a turkey follow all recommendations by the manufacturer for the fryer. Do not use the fryer on a deck or close to a residence.

Have a “kid free zone” 3 feet around the stove or areas where cooking is being done. Keeping the children away will help prevent burn and scald injuries.

On the inevitable topic of turkey fryers, Karl cautioned against a new indoor turkey fryer that seems safer than the traditional kind, but which is susceptible to the same fire hazards.

Karl said the popular Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer, seen in the video below, can still cause a fire if overfilled with oil.

“We do not believe they are any more or less hazardous than a regular deep fat fryer,” he said. “The same risks still exist frying a turkey indoors or outdoors. We ask people read the manufacturers recommendations and be certain the turkey is completely thawed before frying.”

“We wish everybody a safe Thanksgiving,” Karl added.