Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, express gratitude, and enjoy a holiday meal with family and friends.  It’s also when there is almost three times the daily average number of cooking fires.  In fact, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries in the United States.

Turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and all of the trimmings call for a lot of preparation and cooking.  But, when family, friends, and especially children gather in the kitchen, it’s very easy to get distracted and forget about what’s on the stove.  In 2010 at Cook Children’s, we saw 9 scald burns from hot liquids being pulled off the stove or counter. Most of them were male children who were 1 or 2 years old.

“Burns, and especially scalding from hot water and liquids, are very common childhood accidents,” said Maria Levy, M.D., a Cook Children’s pediatrician at the Morris Center for Innovation in Children’s Health, located at 1729 Eight Avenue in Fort Worth.  “Babies and young children are at risk. They are curious and have extra sensitive skin. Parents need to be especially vigilant while cooking and be aware of where your children are at all times. Do what you can to make sure a sober adult is supervising the child while cooking.”

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires.  Nationwide each year, there are approximately 102,408 emergency room visits due to a fire/burn related injury for children ages 0-14.   And, contact with a hot surface or flame causes the greatest number of burns in children.  Safe Kids Tarrant County wants to offer these safety tips to help you prevent a fire and keep the Thanksgiving holiday a memorable tradition.

Keep Your Kids Safe

  • Create a 3 foot Kid Free Zone around the stove. Young children should be more than 3 feet from any place where there is hot food, drinks, pans or trays.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, carrying or drinking hot foods or liquids.
  • Hot foods and items should be kept from the edge of counters and tables.
  • Do not use a tablecloth or placemat if very young children are in the home.
  • When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely and always with help from an adult.

Prevent burns and scalds

  • To prevent hot food or liquid spills, use the stove’s back burner and/or turn pot  handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Keep appliance cords coiled, away from the counter edges and out of children’s reach, especially if the appliances contain hot foods or liquids.
  • Use oven mitts or potholders when carrying hot food.
  • Open hot containers from the microwave slowly and away from your face.
  • Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated.

Prevent Cooking Fires

Never leave hot food or appliances unattended while cooking. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food stay in the kitchen.  If you are baking, boiling, or simmering food, check food frequently.

  • Always be alert when you are cooking.  If you are under the influence of medication or alcohol, avoid using the stove or stovetop.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire at least 3 feet from the stove, toaster oven, or other heat source.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
  • Do not wear loose fitting clothes when you are cooking as they may catch fire from the stovetop.

Safe Kids Tarrant County works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Tarrant County is a member of Safe Kids USA, a national network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Tarrant County was founded in 1992 and is led by Cook Children’s Health Care System.