It’s almost Thanksgiving, and that means family and friends coming together to enjoy food and one another’s company. It is also the leading day for U.S. home cooking fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s latest “Home Fire Involving Cooking Equipment” report, nearly four times as many home cooking fires occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 2015 as on any other typical day of the year. The day before Thanksgiving represents the second-leading day for home cooking fires.
Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 170,200 home structure fires involving cooking equipment, which resulted in 510 fire-related deaths, 5,470 fire-related injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Unattended cooking is, by far, the top contributing factor in home cooking fires and fire-related fatalities.
Between 2011 and 2015, cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fire incidents. Cooking fires caused 20 percent of home fire deaths, and accounted for 45 percent of the reported home fire injuries.
It is very easy to get distracted at Thanksgiving due to the fact that most people are cooking multiple dishes and trying to entertain guests. You may easily be prompted to walk away from the kitchen or forget something is cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. However, just one simple mistake can increase the likelihood of a cooking fire.
Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to greatly reduce the risk of cooking fires on Thanksgiving and beyond. The following are NFPA tips and recommendations for cooking safely:
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking to keep a close eye on the food, especially when frying with oil.
- Use a timer to keep track of cooking times. Check the stove or oven frequently. Consider putting timers in different rooms so that you can hear them over music, football games, and party chatter.
- Stay alert and focused when cooking. To help minimize the risk of injury, avoid cooking when drinking alcohol or if you’re tired.
- Keep things that can easily catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area.
- Kids should stay 3 feet away from stovetops, as well as from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, or gravy could cause serious burns.
- Frying turkeys at Thanksgiving has become increasingly popular. However, NFPA discourages the use of turkey fryers, as they can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property due to the extensive amount of hot oil used with fryers. If you prefer fried turkey, check out your local grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants that sell deep fried turkeys.