Fire association urges caution when cooking Thanksgiving meal

From staff reports

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging added caution when preparing this year’s turkey feast as Thanksgiving Day represents the leading day of the year for home cooking fires.

Between three and four times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as a typical day of the year, according to the NFPA.

“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday, with multiple dishes cooking and baking at the same time, along with lots of guests, entertaining and other distractions in the home that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove or in the oven,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy with the NFPA.

NFPA data shows that 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, on annual average between 2015-19.

On Thanksgiving Day alone, an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2019, reflecting a 228 percent increase over the daily average.

“The good news is that the vast majority of cooking fires are preventable,” said Carli.

Here are tips and recommendations from the NFPA to help people cook 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 a 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.

In addition, NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers that use cooking oil, which can cause devastating burns.

For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends purchasing a fried turkey from a grocery store or restaurant or buying a fryer that does not use oil.


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