Each year more than 3 times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day in the year. In 2017 1,600 cooking fires occurred on Thanksgiving, according to a report from the National Fire Protection Association. To put that in perspective, that’s a 238% increase compared to the daily average of home cooking fires. The leading cause of these fires was unattended cooking.
Thanksgiving is a very social holiday and many people entertain lots of guests. It can be easy to get sidetracked when cooking, leading to accidental kitchen fires. To avoid burning your house down and spending the holiday season house shopping instead of gift shopping, here are some precautions to take when cooking this Thanksgiving.
Tips to avoid fires
Avoid cooking while wearing long sleeves and hanging off fabrics. Tassels and ribbons can easily catch fire if you’re dealing with open flames. When cooking with a pan, you should always use a lid to contain the heat and prevent any flames from shooting out and starting a fire.
Never leave your kitchen while cooking. Especially for things cooking on the stove top, it’s incredibly important to be attentive at all times. It’s extra important to remain in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling any food. For food that is simmering, roasting, or baking, remember to check on them frequently or set timers to remind you. If you do need to leave the kitchen for any reason, turn the stove to ensure that nothing boils over. Make certain that the smoke detectors in your house are all functioning. Use the kitchen hood vent to help prevent any fires from breaking out. Also make sure that the hood vent is clean before you begin cooking.
When cooking, be sure to keep flammable things like towels, wooden utensils, and over mitts at least three feet away from the cooking area to avoid any rogue flames catching. In their 2015 report, the NFPA found that cooking equipment was involved in 48% of all Thanksgiving kitchen fires. If you are using an aluminum pan to cook your turkey in the oven, considering doubling up. If the pan is punctured, any turkey juice drippings could start a fire.
Make sure to keep children away from the stove for their safety. Keep children away from hot foods, hot serving dishes, and hot liquids as they can easily cause burn injuries.
What to do if you have a fire
In the event you do end up with a small fire, such as a grease fire on the stove top, quickly turn the burner off and slide a lid over the pan. If you have an oven fire, immediately turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Once you are confident that the fire is completely out, slowly open the door, while standing to side for safety. If you are unsure if the fire is out, contact the fire department for assistance.
Deep Frying a Turkey
We’ve all seen them. ‘Deep frying turkey’ gone wrong videos have hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube. One of the quickest ways to start a fire is to attempt to deep fry your turkey. There a number of ways this method of preparation can lead to a fire. Turkey pots can easily tip over, spilling hot oil all over. If your turkey pot is overfilled, dropping the bird can lead to oil spilling over onto counter tops and flammable objects.
Many people who deep fry their turkey do so on their home deck which are made out of wood. If your bird is not thawed completely, the drop into the grease will cause the oil to splatter all over. Additionally, turkey fryers have been known to overheat and cause fires. Even without a fire, overheating can cause the lid, handle, and the pot itself to get dangerously hot which can lead to burn injuries if not careful.
Because of the great risks associated with deep frying turkeys the NFPA recommends people use grocery stores, retailers, or restaurants rather than attempting it themselves.
Follow these safety tips and ensure that your kitchen is safe and that your thanksgiving doesn’t become a fire statistic.