Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends. However, cluttered counter tops, multiple cooking stations, and commotion can lead to holiday fires. Between 2017 and 2019 an average of 2,300 residential fires were reported to U.S. fire departments on Thanksgiving Day. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Common causes of Thanksgiving fires
1. Everyday appliances. Ovens, stovetops, and other appliances are working especially hard this time of year. Simple oversight, hectic situations, or poor maintenance can lead to a fire.
2. Turkey fryers. A turkey fryer makes a delicious turkey but can be extremely dangerous; especially if you’re not familiar with how to use one.
3. Candles. Smelling the aroma of a seasonal candle is enjoyable, particularly after a delicious meal. However, with an increased number of guests in your home or excited pets, it can be easier to knock one over.
4. Clutter on countertops. Preparing food for your guests can lead to more clutter on your kitchen countertops. This extra clutter can result in distracted or unattended cooking. In addition, overloaded outlets increase fire risk.
5. Faulty equipment. Outdated or damaged cooking equipment can contribute to fires.
Tips to prevent fires
1. Clean your stovetop and oven. Removing grease and food buildup is a good way to prevent holiday fires. If a fire does occur in your oven, turn it off and keep the door closed. If a fire occurs on your stovetop, smother it with a lid.
2. Never leave your kitchen unattended when cooking. Hosting a holiday gathering is more than just cooking. If you need to leave the kitchen, have someone else keep an eye on things, preferably an adult.
3. Use your turkey fryer outdoors. Never use a fryer in an enclosed space or on a wooden deck. Once an oil fire starts, it’s nearly impossible to put it out. Also, be sure your turkey is completely thawed out before lowering it into the hot oil.
4. Check your smoke alarms. If you’re hosting your first large gathering, it’s a good idea to ensure you have functioning smoke alarms. Due to synthetic materials in today’s homes, it’s estimated that you only have two to three minutes to escape in the event of a fire.
5. Keep children out of the kitchen. Set guidelines for your children about entering the kitchen. Think back to when you were a kid. Were you and your cousins running wildly through the house? Or were you trying to sneak food without your parents noticing? For me and my cousins we were always after my aunt’s monster cookies. The more we could put in the car before we left, the better.
6. Buy an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your home, now may be a good time to purchase one. To learn more, click here.
7. Find a safe place for candles. While candles look nice on the coffee table and add ambiance to your living room, a passing child or wagging tail can easily tip them over. While a fire may not start, severe burns could be the result.
8. Avoid using power strips or extension cords. A regular three prong (grounded outlet) is best for plugging in a toaster, crockpot, or skillet.
9. Call 911. If a fire starts in your home, your first priority is to ensure everyone gets out safely. Once that happens, call 911. Trying to handle a fire on your own can make matters worse.