Holiday Food Prep: Ingredients for Safety

During the holidays, family and friends congregate to celebrate. Everyone gathers in the kitchen to cook favorite recipes, share warm meals and reconnect with each other. Keep your family safe during these joyful times by learning some basic holiday food preparation safety tips before you start cooking.

“The United States Fire Administration estimates more than 2,000 residential fires are reported each Thanksgiving, with cooking the leading cause,” said Tom VanParis, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “The holidays are supposed to be a wonderful time for families to be together in celebration, and we just want them to take precautions and be safe.”

Take steps to protect your home and family from cooking hazards while in the kitchen by installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Test the batteries in each smoke alarm every month and replace them once a year. Creating an escape plan for the whole family will ensure that no matter the circumstances, everyone knows how to exit safely.

With unattended cooking equipment as the leading cause of home cooking fires, always be sure that someone takes over the preparation when needed. Before cooking, clean the stovetop and oven to wipe away any grease or dust to prevent a fire.

While cooking, it’s easy to forget about something in the oven, especially when you’re entertaining guests. Use a kitchen timer to make sure your dish doesn’t burn to a crisp, creating a fire hazard. When cooking on the stove, protect you and any reaching hands from spills or burns by using the back burners. If children are in the room, keep a close eye on them, or direct them out of the kitchen. If cooking over a hot stove, wear short or close-fitting sleeves to avoid a fire.

Always locate appliances away from the sink to avoid any electrical dangers. Plug countertop appliances into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)-protected outlets and keep cords away from hot surfaces like toasters. When finished with these appliances, always unplug them to save energy and avoid electrical hazards.

Before your family can sit down and enjoy the meal you just spent all day preparing, be sure all appliances have been turned off. Then you can all enjoy each other’s company during the holiday season with peace of mind knowing everyone is safe.

Directions for safety:

  • Never leave cooking equipment unattended. Turn off burners if you have to leave the room or have someone else take over.
  • Clean the stovetop and oven of grease and dust.
  • Keep the cooking area around the stove/oven clear of combustibles, such as towels, napkins and pot holders.
  • Wear short or close-fitting sleeves to avoid catching clothing on fire.
  • Use the back burners and turn the pot handles in, away from reaching hands to protect from spills and burns.
  • Locate all appliances away from the sink.
  • Plug countertop appliances into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)-protected outlets.
  • Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces like the range or toaster.
  • Turn off and unplug all appliances when cooking is complete.

Checklist for kitchen safety:

  • Are any appliances plugged into extension cords on a permanent basis?
    If the answer is “yes,” have a licensed electrician install new outlets where needed or move equipment closer to an outlet. Extension cords are for temporary use and can become a fire hazard.
  • Are all appliance cords placed so they will not come in contact with hot surfaces?
    If you answered “no,” move cords away from all heat sources to avoid them melting or burning from the excess heat.
  • Is any cord cracked, frayed or otherwise damaged?
    If you answered “yes,” do not used damaged cords, especially if there are exposed wires. Have a licensed electrician replace the cord or replace the equipment.
  • Are cords attached to anything with nails or staples?
    If you answered “yes,” remove nails or staples, check cord and replace if damaged. Nails and staples can cut or pinch insulation or break wire strands.
  • Are cords kept wrapped up while being used?
    If you answered “yes,” unwrap the cord. Wrapped cords trap heat, which can lead to melting or weakening of the insulation.
  • Have any of your appliances been recalled by the manufacturer?
    If you answered “yes” or “I don’t know,” replace your appliances as soon as possible. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for more info: