Cooking safety tips for the holidays

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Each year, the leading cause of home fires is unsafe cooking habits. With the holidays upon us, Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services shares tips to help you keep your family, guests, and property safe.

Following these best practices may help prevent a home fire:

  • When simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, remember to check it regularly. Use a timer to remind you that something is on the stove or in the oven. Never leave the house when cooking.
  • Turn the stove burners off when leaving the kitchen or the house for any period or when going to sleep.
  • Keep anything that could catch on fire, like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains, away from the stovetop, oven or any other heat-producing appliance in the kitchen. Never wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Remember to stop, drop and roll, if your clothes catch fire. Cool a burn injury with water until the pain goes away.  Never attempt to cook if you are extremely tired, or if you have consumed too many alcoholic beverages.
  • Keep children and pets a safe distance away from the oven or stove when cooking. Create a “kids-free zone” around cooking appliances that produce heat or have an open flame.

Remember to follow proper fire safety precautions to prevent a fire or burn injury while using a turkey fryer:

  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for cooking and safety when using a turkey fryer to deep-fry a turkey.
  • Turkey fryers should be used outdoors at a safe-distance away from the house or any other combustible material.  Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Place the turkey fryer on a solid, flat-level surface; never use the turkey fryer on the back deck or in the garage/carport.  
  • To avoid a spillover of hot oil, follow the manufacturer’s instructions when filling the pot.  Do not overfill the fryer. 
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer. The pot will be extremely hot - both during and immediately after cooking. Remember to use insulated cooking mitts or potholders when touching the pot or removing the lid cover.
  • Wear safety glasses or goggles to prevent hot oil splatter from getting in your eyes. The hot oil could cause a serious burn injury to the face or eyes. 
  • Be sure to use the proper cooking oil and keep the oil temperature in the turkey fryer at the recommended level (350-Degrees Fahrenheit or below) when cooking. The oil could ignite and burn if the temperature is raised above the recommended level.
  • A thawed bird is preferred when cooking in a turkey fryer. A frozen bird should be allowed to thaw (at least 24-hours) in the refrigerator before cooking. Placing a frozen turkey into a fryer could cause a violent reaction.
  • Begin by partially lowering the turkey into the pot slowly. The hot oil may bubble fiercely at first. Allow the bubbles to settle before lowering the bird the rest of the way in. 
  • The oil in the pot should be completely cooled before removing or storing.
  • Keep a multipurpose, ABC-rated portable fire extinguisher close at hand.

Keeping your family and guest safe and comfortable in your home is equally as important when not cooking. Keep these basic tips in mind:

  • Install and maintain working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the home. Place smoke alarms on every level of the home and in each of the bedrooms.
  • Develop a home fire escape plan and practice fire drills with the entire family.
  • Follow the “Get Out, Stay Out!” rule. Call 911 from outside the burning building.
  • Never attempt to go back inside during a fire.

This year, it’s also critical to do your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Be sure to incorporate wearing masks and observe social distancing if you plan to be around anyone who does not live in your household this holiday season. Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. See more COVID-19 prevention tips from the CDC.

Watch this video for more home fire safety tips: For additional information on safe cooking practices or home fire safety, please contact the Gwinnett Fire Community Risk Reduction Division at 678.518.4845 or email