The rate of house fires on Thanksgiving Day is nearly double that of a regular day, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Because so much of the Thanksgiving holiday centers on the dinner table and spending time with family and friends, cooking up some chaos in the kitchen is all too easy. To help Americans enjoy a disaster-free Thanksgiving, the CPSC has released a list of tips that can help minimize the risks of injury or worse.
The U.S. Fire Administration says that about 4,300 fires break out on Thanksgiving Day every year, resulting in 15 deaths and 50 injuries and causing millions of dollars in property damage. Guests arriving and departing, multiple dishes on the stovetop and in the oven, children running around and playing – all of these contribute to the joyful hustle and bustle of the holiday. Too often, though, they also form a recipe for disaster.
People should remain constantly vigilant in the kitchen. Keep small children out of the kitchen, away from hot items and surfaces. Be extra cautious carrying hot dishes and pots full of hot liquids, especially when there are other cooks in the kitchen.
To minimize the risk of fire, never leave cooking food unattended. Be sure to turn the burner off if you must leave the kitchen. Be sure that fire alarms are installed and operating properly, and never disable them. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen at all times and never attempt to extinguish a fire by dousing it with water. Develop and practice a fire escape plan.
The CPSC also says that a growing number of Americans are choosing to deep fry their turkeys on Thanksgiving, which poses another set of potential hazards. If you decide to deep fry your turkey, the CPSC offers the following guidelines to minimize the risk of fire and injury:
- Make sure your fryer is certified by an independent testing lab to the following standard: Outdoor Specialty Gas Cooking Appliances Standard, ANSI Z21.89/CSA 1.18. Safety features should include maximum fill lines, accurate thermometers, temperature limiting devices to reduce potential for overheating oil, and a stable frame to reduce tip-over hazard.
- Follow manufacturer instructions for assembly and use.
- Keep fryer in full view while burner is on and keep it in an open outdoor area AWAY from all walls, fences, or other structures.
If a fire occurs, immediately call 911. DO NOT attempt to extinguish fire with water.