• fire damage in kitchen

Keep Your Kitchen Safe During Holiday Cooking

Everyone loves a holiday dinner, but during the holiday season, the kitchen can become one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, US fire departments responded to over 172,000 house fires between 2014 and 2018, with more fires reported at Thanksgiving and Christmas than other times of year.

Between unattended cooking and distractions around the house during the holidays, it’s easy to have your attention pulled away from a hot range by children, pets, or extended family. Interruptions and multitasking are all part of the holiday rush, but there’s no reason not to take precautions to keep your winter reunions as safe as possible. As you head into the holiday season, take some of these tips for a happier, healthier, and safer holiday dinner.

The Dos and Don’ts of Holiday Cooking Safety

As you head for the kitchen this holiday season, avoid a recipe for disaster with these helpful and potentially life-saving tips.

DO keep your smoke alarms maintained with full batteries. A well-kept smoke detector makes certain you’re aware of fires in the kitchen.  It’s also an effective way to alert everyone present of danger. Make sure to check and replace your alarm’s batteries regularly.

DON’T overburden yourself with tasks on the big day. Between meal prep, cleaning, and keeping hungry family members away from the food before mealtime, holidays are a busy and distracting time. Getting sidetracked in the kitchen can lead to burnt food and stovetop fires, so try delegating tasks or getting prep work done in advance.

DO keep a working and inspected fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Even though you should still call the fire department if you experience a kitchen fire, a working fire extinguisher is a good way to respond to fires before they grow too severe.

DON’T leave cooking food unattended; if there is a fire or other problem, you’ll want to be present to help contain the situation. Make sure you completely turn off your stove if you have to step away from making dinner, or else find another adult to take over for you.

DO use a timer to keep track of both your cooking food and your oven. It’s easy enough to get distracted while cooking, but a kitchen timer can help you remember to take that food out of the oven and to turn off the stove.

DON’T let your kitchen be the center of the party. As nice as it is to see extended family again, the kitchen is no place to spend time catching up, especially in large groups. With more people in one space, it’s more likely someone will be burned on a hot dish or will knock over pots and pans. Try to get friends and family into another room by setting up snacks and entertainment in advance. Additionally, try to set up a minimum safe distance for children and pets.

DO ask for help from friends and family. Whether it’s additional grocery shopping or clean-up, don’t spread yourself too thin while cooking for the holidays. Ask others to help, and delegate tasks accordingly to keep yourself focused.

DON’T try to put out kitchen fires — especially grease fires — with water. Few things are as dangerous as a grease fire in the kitchen, but adding water to a grease fire can spread the flames and lead to greater injury. Instead, if the fire is small, attempt to smother it with baking soda or salt. You can also use pot lids to eliminate the oxygen source for small fires. If the fire is more extreme, calmly evacuate the area as quickly as possible.

DO  clear out clutter. A messy kitchen can easily lead to burns or grease spills. Keep things clean now to avoid a dangerous kitchen later.

DON’T let loose, long fabric or other flammable substances near the heat sources when working near a stovetop, oven, or open fire. Loose clothes, long hair, washcloths, and curtains are all possible fire hazards, so keep them away from hot surfaces.

DO keep oven mitts and potholders nearby when cooking to protect your hands from hot dishes and surfaces.

Cleaning Up After Fire and Smoke Damage


If you follow these dos and don’ts, you should have a safe and festive holiday season, but if things do go wrong, there’s a way to bounce back. At McMahon Services & Construction, we’re here to help you return your home to its former glory. We offer fire clean-up and damage repair for the Chicago area, including Arlington Heights, Berwyn, Des Plaines, Evanston, Mount Prospect, Grayslake, Mundelein, Libertyville, Oak Park, Palatine, Wheaton, Naperville, Waukegan, Schaumburg, Skokie, and surrounding Illinois service areas.

From home restoration to reconstruction, we’re here 24/7 to help you recover from fires. Contact us today, and let us know what we can do to help!