ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Like so many during the holidays, our family spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and preparing some of our favorite dishes.
Although the meals we prepare and the guests we host can change from year to year, the one thing that remains the same is our focus on practicing safe cooking.
A lot of work goes into organizing and preparing a tasty dinner for family and friends - so, in reality, overlooking a safety hazard isn't that difficult to do.
A couple of years ago, I made the mistake of focusing on cooking meat on the grill while neglecting what was baking in the oven. I was lucky in the sense that only my roast beef was burned to a crisp, rather than my entire apartment.
After that day, I decided to familiarize myself with cooking safety to avoid any incidents like this in the future. Below are a few things I learned to take into consideration before preparing a meal for guests.
· Never leave food unattended while cooking. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, unattended cooking is the number one cause of home cooking fires.
· Keep cooking areas clean and clear of items that can easily ignite. Many times people inadvertently place washrags, towels and food packaging right next to the stove top. In addition, cleaning grease from cooking surfaces goes a long way to helping prevent fires.
· Keep children and pets away from cooking areas. Children and pets can bump into pot handles, distract and disorient you, and ultimately contribute to a kitchen accident.
· Wear short, close fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and catch fire.
With 2013 right around the corner, let part of your new year's resolution include dedicating some time to avoid unnecessary risks and keep you and your loved ones safe.
For more information on cooking safety procedures, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/cooking.shtm.