Phoenix News Corner

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. While many of us are looking forward to this holiday for the food, fellowship, and the rest that comes with a couple of additional days off, our local fire departments are scheduling their firefighters for overtime.

Thanksgiving Day is second to no other day on the calendar for insurance claims. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 2,000 residential building fires are reported causing an average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries, and $21 million in property loss each year.  They also state that the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings is cooking and in 20 percent of these occurrences, fire alarms were not present. 

The US Fire Administration provides us with the following safety tips to prevent you from becoming a Thanksgiving statistic.

  1. Make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in every bedroom. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace them if they are ten years old or older.
  2. Keep a close watch on your cooking. You should never leave cooking food unattended.
  3. Keep oven food packaging and other combustibles away from burners and heat sources.
  4. Heat cooking oil slowly and watch it carefully; it can ignite quickly.
  5. Don't wear loose sleeves while working over hot stove burners - they can melt, ignite or catch on handles of pots and pans spilling hot oil and other liquids.
  6. Have a "kid-free zone" of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot foods or drinks are prepared or carried.
  7. Keep a lid nearby 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 cool.

Of course, Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the turkey.  And deep-fried turkey has become a favorite Thanksgiving tradition in many households.  But if misused, an overloaded fryer can easily tip over and set an entire house ablaze.  USFA offers the following helpful tips to backyard chefs who plan to deep-fry a turkey for Thanksgiving:

  1. Turkey fryers should always be used a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials outdoors.
  2. Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  3. Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  4. Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not oversee the fryer, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  5. Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  6. To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  7. Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  8. Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  9. The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
  10. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call the fire department for help.

Source: https://www.dhs.gov/blog/2010/11/24/thanksgiving-safety-tips-us-fire-administration-usfa