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Don’t Let a Cooking Fire Ruin Your Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving is a time of year for families and friends to get together, but as cooking is a major activity of this holiday it presents a greater risk of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly four times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day.

The NFPA’s latest report (2011-2015) shows that cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and civilian injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths in the U.S. 

In 2016 the Columbia Fire Department responded to approximately 476 structure fires with 170 of them were cooking related fires and of those zero occurred on Thanksgiving Day.

“There are many factors that contribute to an increased risk of cooking related fires, but during holidays such as Thanksgiving distractions make it all too easy to forget that you’ve left something cooking or left something flammable to close to cooking source”, stated Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins of the Columbia Fire Department.

For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations.

So keeping fire safety top of mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at home. As you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, remember, by following a few simple safety tips you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safer from fire.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking so you can keep an eye on the food
  • Keep a three foot kid/pet free zone from the stove and  away
  • Roll up sleeves before turning on the burner. Low hanging clothing can easily catch fire and cause severe burns.
  • Never cook if you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy or when you are sleepy.
  • Keep flammable materials away from burners. This includes but not limited to towels, paper towels, oven mitts, food wrappers, pot holders, pizza boxes, and other paper, plastic, and fabric materials.
  • 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.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.

Turkey Fire Prevention

The Columbia Fire Department discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil and recommends you use a professional service to fry your turkey but if you choose to do it yourself just remember to follow these tips before firing up the fryer.

  • Keep the fryer outdoors, on a level surface and at least ten feet from a structure; preferably on hard surface 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. 
  • 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.

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