Cooking Safety for the Holidays – sponsored by Liberty Mutual



As the holiday season approaches, we spend more time at home with our families and in the kitchen, cooking up traditional holiday meals. At the same time, the holidays can be a season where we’re distracted and busy, which can lead to being unfocused in the kitchen and cause accidents.

Cooking has been the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries since 1990, and in 2011, it moved up to the second leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. In a recent study from Liberty Mutual Insurance more than half (56 percent) of surveyed consumers say they plan to cook for family or friends during the holidays this year – with 42 percent of those cooking for groups of 11 or more. However, the large majority (83 percent) admit to engaging in dangerous cooking behaviors which increase the likelihood of kitchen fires, such as disabling the smoke alarm and leaving cooking food unattended to perform non-essential activities, such as watch television, talk on the phone or do laundry.


With three times more kitchen fires on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day than any other day of the year, Cheryl Forberg, celebrity chef and nutritionist, has joined Liberty Mutual Insurance to offer tips on how to make this holiday season safer. “The hectic nature of entertaining during the holidays makes it easy to overlook even the most basic cooking safety rules,” said Forberg. “Our hope is that home chefs will increase their awareness and take action to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday season for everyone.”


  • Stay in the kitchen. Don’t leave the kitchen when you are frying, broiling or grilling. If you leave the kitchen even for a brief time, be sure to turn off all of the burners on the stovetop. More than two in five consumers say that they have left the room to watch television or listen to music.  The holidays can be a busy time, so while multi-tasking is tempting, it’s important not to leave the stove or oven unattended.


  • Set a timer as a reminder that the stove is on. With all of the activities happening during the holidays, it’s common to get distracted. Forty-two percent of consumers say they have left the kitchen to talk or text on their and 35% use the computer or read and send emails while food is cooking, making it easy to lose track of time. Check your food frequently when it’s on the stovetop and use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.


  • Keep anything that can catch on fire away from the stovetop. Pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels and other flammable objects should be kept a safe distance from the stovetop.


  • Be prepared for grease fires. Keep a lid or cookie sheet and oven mitt nearby when you’re cooking to use in case of a grease fire. Fire extinguisher use without training can cause a grease fire to spread and increase the chances of getting seriously injured.


  • Ensure your smoke alarms are functional.Install a smoke alarm that is at least 10 feet away from your kitchen and use the test button to check it each month. Replace the battery at least once a year and never disable a smoke alarm. Alarmingly, nearly a third of consumers report they have intentionally disabled smoke alarms while cooking.


© Cheryl Forberg 2016