As Thanksgiving fast approaches, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging everyone to use added caution when celebrating the holiday, as Thanksgiving Day represents the leading day for home cooking fires. More than three times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as a typical day of the year.
“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday that involves lots of cooking and distractions, which can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove and in the oven,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, so we strongly encourage people keep a close eye on what they’re cooking and to minimize the likelihood of getting distracted.”
According to NFPA data, cooking was the leading cause of reported home structure fires and civilian fire injuries and the second-leading cause of civilian fire deaths and direct property damage, on annual average from 2015 to 2019. On Thanksgiving Day alone, an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2019, reflecting a 228 percent increase over the daily average.
“The good news is that the vast majority of cooking fires are preventable with a little added awareness,” said Carli. “By taking simple steps and precautions to minimize the likelihood of having a cooking fire, everyone can enjoy a festive, fire-safe Thanksgiving.”
Following are tips and recommendations from NFPA for cooking safely this Thanksgiving:
- Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop. Some types of cooking, especially those that involve frying or sautéing with oil, need continuous attention.
- When cooking a turkey, remain at home and check it regularly.
- Make use of timers to keep track of cooking times, particularly for foods that require longer cook times.
- Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers, and towels at least three feet away from the cooking area.
- Avoid long sleeves and hanging fabrics that can come in contact with a heat source.
- Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.
- For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Only open the door once you’re confident the fire is completely out, standing to the side as you do. If you have any doubts or concerns, contact the fire department for assistance.
- Keep children at least three feet away from the stove. Kids should also stay away from hot foods and liquids, as steam or splash from these items could cause severe burns.
In addition, NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers, as these can lead to severe burns, injuries, and property damage. For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends grocery stores, food retailers, and restaurants that sell deep-fried turkey.