Every Thanksgiving is festive until the turkey catches on fire.
Nothing instantly spoils America’s favorite day of giving thanks, enjoying family and dining like a scorched bird that decides to torch your house. Thanksgiving is America’s worst day for house fires by far, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The NFPA’s U.S. Home Cooking Fires report shows that there were 1,600 reported home cooking fires along on Thanksgiving Day 2017, a 238% increase over the previous year. The heartbreaking statistic of Thanksgiving cooking fires: They claim on average five American lives, cause 25 injuries and leave $21 million in associated losses each year.
Thanksgiving produces three times the number of U.S. home cooking fires on a typical day.
The leading culprit is the usual suspect: Unattended cooking.
“With people preparing multiple dishes, often with lots of guest and other distractions in and around the kitchen, it’s easy to see why the number of home cooking fires increase so dramatically,” NFPA vice president for outreach and advocacy Lorraine Carli says. “Fortunately, the vast majority of cooking fires are highly preventable with a little added awareness, and by taking simple steps, to minimize those risks.”
To avoid a toasted turkey turning your home and Thanksgiving to toast, we highly recommend the NFPA’s Thanksgiving Cooking Tips:
- Never leave the kitchen unattended while you’re cooking on the stovetop. Turn off the stove if you need to step out of the kitchen.
- Keep flammable items, such as towels, oven mitts and wooden utensils, at least three feet away from cooking areas.
- Make good use of cooking timers to keep track of when a dish should be done and to remind yourself the stove or oven is on.
- Avoid wearing loose or hanging clothes or accessories that could come easily into contact with a heat source.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the stove and hot foods and liquids.
- Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so they don’t accidentally get bumped when someone walks by them.
- Stay in the house when you’re cooking turkey and check in on it regularly.
- Fires can start when temperatures get too hot. If you’re frying food and start to see smoke or if the grease starts to boil, turn the burner off and carefully remove the pan from the heat source.
- Keep a pan lid or cookie sheet close by in case of a fire starting in your pan. Use the lid or cookie sheet to cover the pan and put out the fire, and make sure to leave it in place until the pan has completely cooled.
- For an oven fire, turn off then heat and keep the door closed until you are confident the fire is completely out. Stand to the side when you open the door just in case and call the fire department if you have doubts or concerns.
- Check the kitchen before going to be or leaving the house to make sure all appliances, burners and ovens are off.
- Avoid using turkey fryers as they can lead to severe burns, injuries and property damage.
Remember, when in doubt, order your turkey out from a grocery store, food retailer or restaurant that sells deep-fried turkeys.
It’s already been a tough year for all of us, let’s not let an unattended turkey make it worse. Let’s put safety first and foremost on the Thanksgiving menu this year.