Make safety a part of holiday cooking

Drawing of a woman and a man preparing a bowl of salad at a table

With the holidays around the corner, the UT Southwestern Emergency Management Team encourages employees and students to practice cooking safety now and throughout the year. Cooking is the greatest cause of home fires and related injuries, and the Thanksgiving holiday is the peak time of year for home cooking fires.

While you plan your menus, you can also mitigate the risk of a fire in your home. A good first step is to check your smoke alarms to ensure they’re working properly. Mitigating the risks of a cooking-related injury can protect you and your family so that you may continue providing focused and quality care to the patients that we serve.

Practice the following cooking safety tips as you prepare your holiday meals:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking at high temperatures.
  • Stay home when cooking and check on food frequently. If you leave the kitchen, set a timer to remind yourself to return.
  • Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from any cooking surface or station.
  • Wear short or tight-fitting sleeves to avoid fabric catching fire.
  • Keep pan/pot handles turned toward the back of the stove to avoid spilling hot liquid.

Frying (or deep-frying) a turkey comes with added risks. Tips for mitigating these include:

  • Place the fryer outside, on a flat surface that cannot burn, such as concrete.
  • Place the fryer at least 10 feet from anything that can catch fire. This includes anything overhead like your house eaves or branches.
  • Use a fryer with thermostat controls; without these, the oil can heat to the point of catching fire. Watch how quickly.
  • Thaw the turkey completely before cooking to keep ice crystals from splattering oil.
  • Be mindful of how much oil you use. You can test the level of oil needed by filling the pot with water first and dipping the turkey inside to see how much the water rises.
  • Use potholders and oven mitts when handling the turkey fryer. The pot, lid, and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries.

The Office of Safety and Business Continuity wishes all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday! For questions, concerns, or training needs, please email the Emergency Management and Business Continuity Team.