Fire safety 101: Tips on how to prevent cooking hazards on Thanksgiving

Frying a turkey or cooking in a messy kitchen? That could be a ‘recipe for disaster’
turkey fryer fire safety demonstration
Escambia County Fire Rescue firefighter conducts a turkey fryer fire safety demonstration in Pensacola, Florida, on Nov. 19, 2020. Photo credit Gregg Pachkowski/gregg@pnj.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC
By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday filled with memorable traditions and dishes, but it is also the busiest day of the year for fire departments all over the country.

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Since there's a lot of cooking going on, there's an increase in the chances of fires.

“They don’t do these big meals all year around,” said Philadelphia Fire Department Batallion Chief Tom Kane, “and they are either not prepared or ready to do some of the things that are necessary.”

The risks increase for deep-fried turkeys — we’ve all seen the videos.

“If you set that level too high and you put your turkey in, the overflow of hot oil will catch fire,” Kane explained. “The other situation is you want to make sure your turkey is completely thawed out. If you drop a frozen turkey into hot oil, it will act as an explosion. It is a recipe for disaster.”

The turkey fryer should be well away from your house, pets and children, too.

In 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to about 1,400 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Home cooking fires on Thanksgiving are three times more likely than the daily average.

Kane has answered a lot of fire calls on Thanksgiving, and he and the rest of the department want to make sure everyone enjoys the holiday safely. Follow these tips to keep your turkey day celebrations calm, cool and collected.

Thanksgiving Fire Prevention Tips

1. Clean your stove, oven and countertops thoroughly before Thanksgiving to avoid a fire from grease build-up.

2. Wear clothing without loose sleeves, as those could easily catch fire.

3. Keep children and pets out of the kitchen to avoid the danger of spilling hot food on them.

4. Keep dish towels and pot holders away from the stove.

5. Keep a lid right next to the stove. That is the best way to extinguish a grease fire — just slide, cover and smother.

6. For those frying the turkey, make sure your turkey is fully defrosted and dry before you place it in the hot oil. If you drop a frozen turkey in hot oil, it will act as an explosion.

7. Keep turkey fryers far away from your home, deck, pets and children.

8. Do not overfill your fryer with oil, as that can cause spillage that burns and spreads fire quickly.

9. If something happens, call 911 immediately. Do not wait. The sooner authorities arrive, the faster they can extinguish a fire or treat a burn victim.

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