CHAPEL HILL – As we prepare to fire up our ovens for Thanksgiving cooking, there are some safety tips to keep you and your family safe. The kitchen tops the list as the most likely place for house fires and burn injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Ernest Grant, coordinator of N.C. Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals, has several recommendations. To reduce burn and fire hazards, he suggests wearing-short sleeved shirts or rolling sleeves up while cooking. The goal is to keep all types of fabric away from oven coils, including the fabric of clothing, oven mitts, potholders, and dish towels

If a grease fire occurs, the best thing you can do is to cut off the oxygen source, such as putting a lid on the pan in which the flame has ignited.  Oxygen can cause a fire to grow larger

“The best thing to do is to put a lid on top of the pan and leave it there for a good 15-20 minutes, turn off the burner, and move the pan to another section of the stove,” Grant says.

The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking, according to the NFPA. Grant recommends designating a greeter to answer the door or the phone, and if you have to leave the kitchen for a moment, take a kitchen timer to remind you to return. Establishing a “no kid zone” is important to protect children from hot surfaces.

Accidents involving turkey deep-fryers are also the cause of many injuries.

“Frying the turkey, either using peanut oil or cottonseed oil—that is a very high temperature, and of course, just the slightest little bit of water can begin to cause a significant reaction,” Grant says. “Oil can splatter out of the fryer which will cause some significant burns to the individual.”

And because every accident can’t always be prevented, Grant says the best way to treat a minor burn is to immediately run cool water over the injury for three to five minutes.

“What you are trying to do is to get the heat out of the tissues so that the burn is not made any deeper. Then wrap it in a clean, dry dressing.” 

To treat minor burns, avoid old fashioned remedies like butter or mustard, which hold in heat, or ice, which can do more harm to the already sensitive tissue.

Grant advises to have a well-stocked emergency kit on hand. This should include antibiotic cream such as bacitracin, gauze pads and first-aid tape. Bacitracin is especially helpful for wounds that produce pus, like burns.

He recommends checking smoke and fire alarms, and also suggests purchasing a fully charged Class-B or ABC-type fire extinguisher.