As families prepare to gather for Thanksgiving Day feasts this Thursday, November 23, the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Tennesseans to incorporate good cooking safety habits into their plans in order to avoid a holiday home fire.
Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment, with three times the average number. An estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Here in the Volunteer State, 18 percent of reported home structure fires in 2016 involved cooking equipment. Those 2,021 fires resulted in 13 civilian fatalities, 54 civilian injuries, nine firefighter injuries and over $8 million of direct property damage according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System.
“Careless cooking habits can lead to devastating fires,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Because the excitement of a Thanksgiving get-together can lead to distractions for holiday cooks, we’re urging Tennesseans to pay attention in the kitchen, and if using a turkey fryer, take all necessary safety precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your property.”
The SFMO offers these safety tips for a fire-safe Thanksgiving:
• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave the room, even for a moment, turn off the burner.
• Use a kitchen timer when boiling, simmering, baking, or roasting to remind yourself to check the cooking often.
• Use caution with turkey fryers. It is recommended that consumers utilize the oil-free models that are available or seek commercial professionals to prepare this entrée.
• Turkey fryers must always be used outdoors and a safe distance from buildings and other flammable materials.
• Never use turkey fryers indoors or on a wooden deck.
• Make sure the fryer is used on a flat surface to prevent accidental tipping.
• Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. Most fryer units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
• Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours after use.
• To prevent spillover, 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 thawed and dry before cooking. Ice or water that mixes into the hot oil can cause flare-ups. The National Turkey Foundation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of weight.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease or oil fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department by dialing 911.
For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist.