A time for family and friends, Thanksgiving also often revolves around a crowd favorite: food. Where food is being prepared, heat and flames will almost surely follow, increasing the risk of a house fire. For that reason, Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day for home cooking fires in America, and requires extra care to keep the food and fun from becoming a deep-fried disaster.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving in 2015. Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor of home fires and fire-related deaths. Plus, cooking equipment ties with heating equipment as the second most-cited cause of home fire deaths.
Turkey fryers are of particular concern. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) lists five dangers of deep frying a turkey:
- Turkey fryers can easily tip over, spilling hot oil across a large area.
- An overfilled cooking pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside.
- A partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter.
- Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire.
- The pot, lid and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries.
The administration recommends keeping a “3-foot kid- and pet-free zone” around your turkey fryer; making sure your fryer has the correct amount of oil, which can be determined by first placing the turkey in a pot with water; completely thawing the turkey; checking the fryer’s temperature often; and using long cooking gloves to protect from burns. Of course, keeping a careful eye on the fryer or any Thanksgiving dish while it’s cooking is a must.
In addition to cooking safety, Thanksgiving festivities are also an excellent time to check smoke alarm batteries and ensure you have the best protection for you and your guests in case of an accident.
“Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38 percent) or no working smoke alarms (21 percent),” the NFPA states.
It’s also important to have both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms in your home because they are better at detecting different things. Ionization smoke alarms warn of flaming fires and photoelectric alarms warms warn about smoldering flames. Both fire prevention and protection are necessary to ensure your Thanksgiving is memorable for all the right reasons.