According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are over 4,000 fires on Thanksgiving Day every year. Family gatherings and cooking a turkey dinner are traditional Thanksgiving activities. However, distractions and unsafe practices can turn a fun cooking time into a fire hazard. Cooking fires cause damage to homes and injuries to anyone nearby. Consider these tips for fire prevention in the kitchen this Thanksgiving:
- Don’t leave fryers, broilers, or grills unattended. Always have someone watch these items, and turn off the stove if you have to leave the area.
- Don’t wear clothing that is loose or flowing and can easily catch fire.
- Do make sure your fire alarm is working properly. Check the alarm monthly and replace batteries yearly.
- Do use turkey fryers outside and away from flammable structures. Follow the instructions for your fryer carefully.
- Do enforce an “adults only zone.” Kids running around cooking areas can easily knock into pots and pans causing burns or fires. The zone should be roughly three feet from any cooking area.
- Do keep your stove area neat. Having wrappers or oven mitts near the stove is a fire hazard.
- Do check candles. After your guests have departed, have a family member or friend check all the candles and cooking appliances to make sure they have been turned off. Candles should be placed away from flammable decorations. Children should never be left unattended in a room with lit candles.
- Do hide matches and lighters. All fire starters should be kept out of the reach of small hands. Cabinets that are high are a good place to store them.
- Do keep flame resistant and retardant items handy. A flame resistant oven mitt can help smother any flames, and a fire extinguisher may be necessary for any larger flames.
- Do use the back burners when possible and turn handles to the interior of the stovetop.
If you encounter a fire in your oven, turn the heat off immediately. Do not open the door until the flames have extinguished. Never use water to put out a grease fire. Corn starch or a fire extinguisher can help smother a grease fire. Contact emergency services at the first sign that a fire might be out of hand. Have everyone clear the area, and make sure all your guests are accounted for.
The National Fire Protection Association does not recommend using turkey fryers, since they pose a significant fire hazard to those who use them. Instead, try smoking your turkey or brining and baking it to keep the bird moist and flavorful. Alternative meats on Thanksgiving may also provide more flavor. Try a turducken, which is a turkey stuffed with a duck and a chicken. Or, bake a ham or grill tenderloins for a nontraditional Thanksgiving meal.
Stay safe this holiday season by following these holiday tips. Thanksgiving should be about family and friends being together and celebrating our gratitude. Being vigilant and mindful of fire hazards can keep everyone safe and focused on the true meaning of the holiday.