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Don’t Let Grease Fires Ruin Your Holidays — Arizona Burn Center Doctors Urge Caution


PHOENIX — Antonio Hamilton’s serious burns from a cooking accident brought national attention to the Arizona Cardinals’ cornerback and his inspirational story of recovery.  

The incident also highlights the dangers of grease fires during the holidays when friends and families gather in the kitchen.  

“In the last year, 51 people, including 7 children, were admitted to the burn center due to hot grease or oil burns,” said Dr. Kevin Foster, Director of the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health. “These are serious burns — three of the pediatric patients required ICU care, and nearly 60 percent of the adult patients required surgery.” 

“We see an increase in these kinds of burns during the holiday season related to cooking. You don’t want to spend your holiday in the burn center,” Foster added.

Foster said that while most of the children who were burned were toddlers who pulled down pans of hot grease, there were cases of hot grease accidentally spilled on children who were “underfoot.” As for adults, the majority accidentally spilled hot grease on themselves or were burned attempting to put out a grease fire.

To lessen the chance for grease burns, Foster offered the following tips for cooking with grease or hot oil:

  • Never leave hot grease or oil unattended while cooking 
  • Bring grease or oil up to the desire temperature slowly and add the food gently 
  • Keep stove area free of things that could catch fire like potholders and food packages 
  • Keep hot grease out of reach from young children!
    • Use your back burners
    • Turn pot handles to the back
    • Keep any containers with hot grease or oil away from the edges of countertops or tables
    • Create a 3-foot “No Kid Zone” around your stove and never attempt to transfer grease or oil with children in the kitchen 
  • Keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires. If there is a grease or oil fire, slowly cover the pan with the lid and shut off the burner. Do not use water on a grease fire. Should a grease fire ignite, the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) suggests: 
  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire 
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave 
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out 
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. Do not use water on a grease fire.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed

If you or a loved one suffers a burn injury, please go to the Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health for treatment. For more information, visit www.Valleywisehealth.org.

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