Christmas Day, Thanksgiving have the most kitchen fires

Dec. 25, 2013 at 12:28 AM
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BOSTON, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- More U.S. kitchen fires are reported on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day -- three times more than any other day of the year, Liberty Mutual says.

The National Fire Protection Association says cooking is the leading cause of home fires and the second leading cause of home fire deaths in the United States. New data suggests some of those fires can be prevented if people practiced basic fire safety rules in the kitchen.

A recent Liberty Mutual Insurance survey reveals more than half of Americans plan to cook for family and friends during the holidays -- with 42 percent of those cooking for groups of 11 or more.

Eighty-three percent of U.S. adults admit to engaging in dangerous cooking behaviors which increase the likelihood of kitchen fires.

Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed by Liberty Mutual admit they disabled a smoke alarm while cooking. The majority of respondents have multitasked while cooking, with 65 percent confirming that they have left cooking food unattended to watch television, talk on the phone or do laundry.

The Liberty Mutual Insurance survey of more than 1,000 adults revealed that parents are particularly prone to engaging in dangerous cooking habits, with 10 percent more parents admitting to disabling a smoke alarm while cooking compared to those without children.

Parents also tend to leave the kitchen more frequently while cooking, including 1-in-5 admitting to giving their child a bath while food is cooking and 52 percent of parents leaving the room to talk or text on the phone.

In the general survey population, a startling 1-in-10 adults actually left the home completely while cooking, and others left cooking food unattended to perform non-essential activities.

"Before you disable a smoke alarm, think about this: almost two-thirds of home fire deaths are the result of homes without working smoke alarms," said Tom Harned, fire safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance and chief fire officer in Gilbertsville, Pa.

The phone survey, conducted Oct. 10-13 by Ketchum Global Research & Analytics, has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

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