COLUMBUS – Busy and inattentive home chefs during the Thanksgiving holiday are a big reason November is one of the leading months for cooking-related fires in Ohio. State officials are urging patience and focus to decrease the chances of injury and property damage.
“The holidays are a special time of year for many families, and too many of them are ruined by fires that could have been prevented,” State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey said. “Last November, there were nearly 350 cooking-related fires in Ohio — 47 on Thanksgiving alone. It really is so important to avoid any distractions in the kitchen and pay attention to what you’re cooking.”
While the month of November saw a slight decrease in the number of cooking-related residential fires between 2017 and 2018 — from 380 to 347 — they account for a larger percentage of the total fires in that month — from roughly 29 percent to about 31 percent.
Homeowners insurance generally covers cooking fire damage, but consumers should still carry out a review to ensure they have adequate coverage, Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment said.
“Thanksgiving is a special time of the year, but it can be hectic,” Froment added. “Staying focused on the task at hand when cooking can lower the chance of injury, property damage, and filing an insurance claim.”
There are steps you can take to stay safe:
• Do not leave any cooking area unattended.
• Set a timer as a reminder of the food you are preparing.
• Maintain a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove or areas where hot food or drinks are being prepared.
• Keep paper towels and napkins away from hot surfaces.
• Keep deep-fried turkey cooking out of the garage, away from your home, and wooden structures.
• Have an appropriate fire extinguisher handy.
• If the situation becomes more serious, evacuate and call 911.
If you have to file a claim, take photographs and/or video of the damage and immediately contact your insurance agent and/or company. Provide complete and accurate information when submitting a claim to avoid delay.
You can call the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 or visit www.insurance.ohio.gov for more information. Additional cooking safety tips are available from the State Fire Marshal’s Office at www.com.ohio.gov/documents/fire_cookingsafetytips.pdf.