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Firefighters reminding citizens to be attentive while cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

This Thanksgiving will likely look quite different for many families across our area in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Yet one thing that will not change is the increased risk of cooking fires that comes each year during the holiday. The risk of having a major fire will be even higher for many citizens in the Midlands who choose to deep fry their holiday turkeys.

“No matter the size of your gathering, accidents while cooking can still happen,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “this can cause major injuries and significant property damages if a fire breaks out. Our department is once again encouraging everyone to remain attentive and practice safety in the kitchen or if they plan to deep-fry a turkey outside.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking caused almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second leading cause of home fire deaths from 2014 to 2018. Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas Eve.

To help ensure your Turkey Day remains trouble free, here are a few safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.

  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave a lit candle unattended nor sleep while candles are lit.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • If you have a small grease fire on your stovetop and decide to fight it, smother the flames with a lid cover and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. If the grease fire is in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off.
  • Keep a Class ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher handy in the event you have a growing grease fire.  NEVER use water to try to extinguish a grease fire. If you ever have doubts about fighting a small fire get out of your house and call 9-1-1.

Finally…USE EXTREME CAUTION IF YOU PLAN TO DEEP FRY YOUR TURKEY

The NFPA has discouraged the use of turkey fryers citing the extreme danger if they’re used improperly.

If you choose to deep fry your turkey: 

  • Keep the fryer outdoors, on a level surface and at least 10 feet from all combustible materials; preferably on a hard surface such as a driveway.
  • Use an approved fryer. These have four legs, a built-in thermostat, and are stable. You should be easily able to measure the oil’s temperature while cooking it to prevent a fire.
  • Follow all instructions. Even before turning the fryer on, make sure to read all of the instructions. Be careful when choosing the right size, how to cook the turkey, and what kind of oil to use with it.
  • Thaw and dry out the turkey completely before frying!!

  • Never leave the turkey fryer unattended! As soon as you turn the fryer on, never leave it alone. Also remember to use insulated gloves instead of oven mitts; the gloves have more insulation.
  • Be careful of splashing oil! Make sure that the fryer is moved away from all combustible materials, including your property, grass, furnishings, etc.
  • Follow these steps to make sure you use the proper amount of grease:
    • Place the turkey (still in its wrapper) in the pot.
    • Pour water in the pot until it just covers the turkey.
    • Take the turkey out of the pot.
    • On the outside of the pot, mark to water level with a marker
    • This marker represents the correct amount of grease you need in your pot

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!