Use Caution in the Kitchen to Avoid Cooking-Related Fires This Thanksgiving

With larger holiday get togethers seeing a return this year, staff at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department want to urge citizens to pay CAREFUL attention while preparing their Thanksgiving Day meals for family and friends.

“Preparing a large dinner always comes with added stress,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The important thing to remember is to never compromise your safety or the safety of others in order to get a meal prepared faster. If you plan to deep fry a turkey be sure to give it time to COMPLETELY defrost. NEVER leave food cooking on the stove unattended and also be sure to allow enough time to properly cook your favorite holiday recipes. Not following these directions can put you at a greater risk for having a cooking fire or other holiday mishap.”

Each year Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires in the U.S. according to the National Fire Protection Association. In 2019 alone fire departments across the country responded to an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

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. (Source: NFPA)




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!