Thanksgiving Cooking Safety

Boone County Fire Districts Encourages Residents to Have a Happy, Safe Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to come together to enjoy a delicious meal and reflect on the past year. For many, it’s a day (or days) of preparation – planning menus, getting homes ready for holiday visitors and preparing favorite dishes that only appear once a year.

It’s also an all-too-common time when home cooking fires occur. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that cooking causes 53% of all reported home fires on Thanksgiving holiday. There are more than three times the daily average for cooking fires on Thanksgiving

“All nine fire departments in Boone County want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable holiday. Fortunately, there are some very simple and important safety tips you can take over Thanksgiving to protect your family, friends and guests,” shares Jeff Barlow, Fire Chief, Burlington Fire Protection District.

Turkey Fryers Leading Cause of Fires
Chief Barlow’s number one tip in reducing your risk of fire on Thanksgiving: Rethink that turkey deep fryer.

“I know a deep-fried turkey can be tasty,” he admits. “I’m not one to say that something is inherently dangerous, but we have seen time and time again extensive damage and injuries caused by deep frying a turkey. If you really want that deep-fried taste, consider ordering one from a restaurant or grocery store.”

If you still want to deep fry a turkey, keep these important precautions in mind.

1. Get familiar with your deep fryer.
Many home chefs only deep fry during Thanksgiving. The holiday might even be the first time someone takes the fryer out of the box. Chief Barlow urges residents to read the instructions, watch videos and set up the device before the big day. This helps people know the proper way to use the device and what safety measures to take.

2. Keep the deep fryer away from all structures and people.
Fires from deep fryers start and spread fast. A deep fryer on a back porch or in a garage can quickly catch homes on fire. Protect your loved ones and home by placing the device far enough away from structures and people so flames can’t spread.

3. Do not deep fry frozen or wet turkeys.
“A turkey that is still frozen, even if just partially, or slightly damp can lead to a very dangerous situation,” explains Chief Barlow.

Water from a turkey creates steam in the deep fryer. That steam rapidly expands and begins to bubble up. Those bubbles rise to the top, forcing the hot burner to spill out of the fryer and onto the hot oil beneath the deep fryer.

“An overflow or spill can quickly cause a catastrophic fire ball that damages homes and nearby structures and cause very serious injuries,” Chief Barlow states.

4. Do not overfill oil.
Deep fryers should have a clear marking on where to fill oil. Adding more oil than recommended increases the risk of hot oil spilling over the deep fryer and causing a fire.

Safe Cooking Tips
Cooking turkeys (and tasty sides) in the kitchen also calls for extra precaution on Thanksgiving Day. Chief Barlow offers these tips to help reduce the risk of fire in the kitchen.

  • Never leave cooking unattended. An adult should always be present in the kitchen when food is being prepared.
  • Keep working surfaces clear of clutter. Oven mitts, paper towels and food packaging can quickly catch fire. Be sure cooking utensils aren’t placed on hot burners.
  • Avoid loose-fitting, long sleeve clothing. Draping clothing can catch fire and cause serious injury to the cook.
  • Be alert when cooking. Limit alcohol. Ask someone else to step in if you’re feeling sleepy or are unable to focus on what’s cooking on the stove. Falling asleep while food is cooking can be disastrous.

Be Prepared In Case of An Emergency 
All homeowners should know what to do in case of a fire – whether it’s on a holiday or just a typical Thursday. Here’s a quick reminder on the steps you can take to keep yourself and loved ones safe and help limit damage.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Double-check that your fire extinguisher isn’t expired, is formulated for cooking fires and that you know how to use it.
  • Keep a lid near the stovetop. A lid can help smother flames and contain the fire. Turn off the stove heat immediately.
  • Keep the oven door closed. Turn off the stove and evacuate immediately if a fire starts in the oven.
  • Tell guests to leave the home immediately. Point out the nearest exit. Remind visitors to leave belongings, including purses, shoes and coats.
  • Close the door behind you when leaving. Fires feed on oxygen. Keep doors and windows closed to help reduce the spread of flames.
  • Call 911. Immediately call 911 to report the fire. “Even if you were able to put out the fire, call 911 to let us know what happened. We’ll send someone to make sure the fire was put out properly and survey the damage,” encourages Chief Barlow.

The Boone County Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC) receives emergency (and non-emergency) calls from across the county 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – including holidays. Residents can reach PSCC by dialing 911 or calling the non-emergency line at 859-371-1234. Trained dispatchers will answer your call, gather additional information and dispatch the appropriate emergency response, including fire, EMS or police.



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