NATIONWIDE – The National Fire Protection Association is urging everyone to be cautious while celebrating as Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires.
Over three times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as a typical day of the year.
“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday that involves lots of cooking and distractions, which can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove and in the oven,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, so we strongly encourage people keep a close eye on what they’re cooking and to minimize the likelihood of getting distracted.”
Cooking was the leading cause of reported home structure fires and civilian fire injuries and the second-leading cause of civilian fire deaths and direct property damage, according to the annual average from 2015-2019.
On Thanksgiving Day alone, around 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2019, a 228% increase over the daily average.
“The good news is that the vast majority of cooking fires are preventable with a little added awareness,” said Carli. “By taking simple steps and precautions to minimize the likelihood of having a cooking fire, everyone can enjoy a festive, fire-safe Thanksgiving.”
The NFPA is sharing the following tips for cooking safely this Thanksgiving:
- Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention.
- When cooking a turkey, remain at home and check it regularly.
- Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.
- Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least three feet away from the cooking area.
- Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that can come in contact with a heat source.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.
- Keep children at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.
The NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers, as these can lead to severe burns, injuries, and property damage. For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants that sell deep-fried turkey.
The turkey fryer is the most dangerous kitchen appliance.
The Colorado Springs Fire Department shares the following tips if you insist on deep-frying your turkey this year:
- Always, use turkey fryers outdoors at safe distance from buildings and any other material that can burn.
- Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages. Make sure fryer is a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
- Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. The oil can continue to heat until it catches fire.
- Never let children or pets near the fryer. Even after use, never allow children or pets near the turkey fryer.
- Do not overfill the fryer.
- Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles.
- If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades.
- Oil and water don’t mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
- Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.
- Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.