Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around food. And this can set up hazardous meal preparation conditions. Whether it's inexperienced cooks taking on the task of cooking a turkey, constant distractions leading to unattended cooking, or just too many people trying to help out in the kitchen at once, holiday cooking can become stressful and can lead to disastrous outcomes that ruin the festive occasion.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day. NFPA’s latest cooking estimates show that there were 1,550 cooking fires on Thanksgiving in 2013, reflecting a 230% increase over the daily average. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
State Farm concurs with the NFPA’s assessment of how dangerous holiday meals can be. In November and December of 2014, State Farm received an average of 18 claims daily related to cooking fires. That number nearly doubled on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Although claims associated with holiday cooking fires have not increased since 2013, damage to property and risk of injury remains.
Here are the top six tips for cooking your Thanksgiving meal dinner with fire safety in mind:
1. Stay in the kitchen — with minimal ‘help.’
- Remain in the kitchen while cooking, keeping a close eye on food in the oven and on the stove.
- Try not to get distracted by guests who want to pitch in. Make a list of tasks for everyone ahead of time.
- Consider having a 'child-free zone' where hot food is prepared, and also keep pets out of the kitchen to prevent anyone from tripping and accidentally knocking something over.
2. Keep fabrics away from the cooking area.
3. Don’t mix drinking and cooking.
4. Know how to put out small cooking fires.
For a small grease cooking fire on the stovetop, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
If you’re cooking a turkey using a disposable aluminum pan, consider doubling up and using two pans to avoid a puncture or put the disposable pan on a sturdy cookie sheet, as dripping turkey juices can cause an oven fire. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
Keep a small fire extinguisher in the kitchen, UL listed and rated for grease and electrical fires. Be sure you know how to use the fire extinguisher correctly.
For any other kind of fire, just get out and call 9-1-1 from a safe place.
5. Leave turkey frying to experts.
6. Keep smoke alarms connected while cooking.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!