By Samuetta Hill Drew
The Christmas Season is a time of year when we fondly reflect on our childhood memories. Regardless of whether we grew up in an urban, suburban or rural area in America, these memories almost always include the preparation of food. In fact, it makes us smile as we conjure up the aromatic smells of various meats, vegetables, breads and desserts being cooked in the kitchen by our mother, grandmother and/or aunt with sometimes a combination of them all. As I reflect on my childhood memories, I can remember my mother baking the night before and the great aroma of ham swirling throughout our home as it would cook slowly overnight as our family slept. Great times and great memories, but reflecting back, the safety solution director in me realizes how dangerous this Christmas practice was for our family. It was a recipe for a potentially dangerous situation. I want to make sure your family is safe this Christmas. So let’s review some holiday best practices to ensure safety for you and your family.
Make sure all your smoke alarms are operable. They should be in areas by your kitchen and bedrooms as well as one on each level of your home. This includes any homes with unfinished basements. There should be a smoke alarm on this level, as well.
Make sure you have an operable fire extinguisher in your kitchen and you know how to use it. If you already have one, make sure it has recently been inspected.
To help prevent a kitchen fire, make sure you stove is clean. Your oven and stove top should be grease and dust free. You should also regularly clean your exhaust hood, along with the duct over the stove.
You want your refrigerator working properly so make sure you clean the coils every three months to prevent dangerous dirt build up. This is important throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season when large quantities of perishable foods are purchased and stored. Proper food storage at the proper temperature is crucial. It helps prevent the dangerous spread of food bacteria which can lead often to food poisoning.
Never leave food unattended. You should not cook if you are sleepy or while drinking alcohol.
Make sure children are closely supervised if they’re in the kitchen. Note they should be at least three feet away from all cooking appliances. Be careful also of hanging tablecloths with place settings which have sharp edges (knives, forks) and glassware.
It is easy to forget food which is still cooking when you’re entertaining Christmas guests. Therefore, it would be wise to use a kitchen timer to prevent your food from becoming a fire hazard.
It is my wish to you and your family that you Keep an Eye on Safety by including these safety tips in your holiday main course. Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas!