While Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and friends, for those in the fire service it can mean something entirely different.
According to the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year for house fires. In 2015, fire departments throughout the U.S. responded to about 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fire deaths and injuries, according to FASNY. Some other causes of home fires include objects near the cooking catching fire, deep-frying turkeys and others.
FASNY offers the following tips from NFPA to avoid home cooking fires this holiday:
- Unattended Cooking - the leading cause of fires in the kitchen: Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking, as guests, phones, children, pets and other activity can easily distract a cook.
- Objects near the cooking catching fire: Clothing ignitions lead to approximately 16 percent of home cooking fire deaths. It is important to wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners or gas flames and catch fire. Keep the cooking area clean and combustible materials away from your stove top: built-up grease as well as oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, towels, curtains and other materials on or near the stove can catch fire.
- Cooking equipment unintentionally turned on or not turned off. Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop. Have children turned the stove on?
- Deep-frying turkeys: Turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in cooking oil at high temperatures pose a significant danger of hot oil being released or spilled during cooking, leading to devastating burns, other injuries and property destruction. Never fry a frozen turkey.
- Hot cooking oil exposed to water or outdoor elements: If rain or snow strikes hot cooking oil in propane-fired turkey fryers designed for outdoor use, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the precipitation to steam, which can lead to burns. Frozen and defrosting turkeys also create the risk of contact between water and hot cooking oil, which can cause severe scalding or other serious injury.
If you do have a cooking fire, FASNY offers the following guidelines:
- Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
- Do not use water to put out a grease fire. Use an appropriate fire extinguisher, or baking soda, salt, or a tight lid. Keep the lid nearby when you’re cooking, to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. Always keep a box of baking soda near the stove.
For more fire safety tips, click here.