Thanksgiving most dangerous day for home fires, and it’s not just turkey-fryer explosions
If you’re putting together a holiday feast this Thanksgiving, be forewarned: Cooking caused half of residential building fires in 2015, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and more home fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.
It’s not just turkey-fryer explosions, either. The sheer number of cooks hitting the kitchen on Thanksgiving results in a national home fire risk three times that of an average day.
Luckily, the No. 1 cause of cooking fires is leaving the kitchen unattended, which is easily preventable. A few key safety steps can keep you, your home and your loved ones safe.
Avoid an overcooked meal (or worse) by having someone on cooking duty at all times. If you have to leave, turn off cooking equipment first.
Limit distractions by planning television time, video chats, chores and other activities outside of meal preparation time.
Smother grease fires with a metal lid or baking soda — never use water. Make sure to turn off the heat first.
If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed.
Everyone loves hanging out in the kitchen — which can lead to bumps, spills and other injuries, especially when kids are involved. To minimize accidents and divert traffic, put snacks, games and toys in another room.
If you are sleepy or have consumed too much alcohol, step away from cooking and designate a “driver” to take the lead.
Keep dish towels, oven mitts, paper products and other flammable materials away from heat.
Have a fully functional fire extinguisher handy for emergencies.
If you do opt to fry your turkey, remember these three key steps:
Move the fryer away from your home: Your fryer should be set up on a stable, non-combustible surface that’s at least 10 feet away from your home. Avoid operating the fryer near or under trees. Open space as far from your home as possible is your best bet, and never place your fryer directly on your lawn or dirt.
Don’t overfill the fryer: Read all of the directions carefully, ahead of time, before beginning the frying process. Be sure to fill the fryer only to the fill line, even if you think you may need more oil. Overfilling the fryer may cause it to overflow, especially when you add the turkey. Hot oil spillover, in turn, presents a serious burn hazard and fire risk.
Properly thaw your turkey: If you try and deep fry a frozen turkey, it will explode and you will start a fire. A frozen turkey must be completely defrosted before frying, so read thawing directions when you buy your bird. If you are thawing it in the fridge, leave the turkey to thaw for six hour per pound, or three days for a 10-12 pound bird. If you are thawing your turkey in cold water in your sink, let it thaw for 30 minutes per pound — and make sure to change the water every 30 minutes to ensure it stays cold.