As your family prepares for Thanksgiving, a lot of thinking goes into what will be on the Thanksgiving table. But more important than what you put on your table is how to cook the delicious food ….safely!
Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires in the United States. Three times more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on the average day. In 2008, fire departments responded to 1,300 home cooking fire accidents on the holiday, compared to 420 on an average day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Cooking is a leading cause of fires year-round. Two out of every five home fires in the United States result from cooking. Between 2004 and 2008, an average of 460 people died in cooking fires. Three of every five people who suffered personal injury were hurt trying to extinguish the flames themselves.
Protect your home and family this holiday with these tips:
- Unattended cooking is the most common way kitchen fires get started. Do not leave the kitchen while using a stovetop. If you must leave, turn the stovetop off until you return.
- Be alert. Do not cook if you are tired or have consumed alcohol.
- Clear your stove of anything that could catch on fire, including oven mitts, utensils and towels.
- Use a cooking timer so you do not forget you are cooking.
- Do not leave the house when cooking.
- If you are deep frying, go outside. Do not stuff the turkey. When deep frying, use turkeys that are 12 pounds or less in size. Avoid using too much oil by doing a preliminary test using water. Place the turkey in the cooking utensil and add water to cover. When you remove the turkey, measure the amount of water. Use the same amount of oil.
- Do not cook your turkey in a brown paper bag from the grocery store. They are unsanitary, emit toxic fumes and may ignite under the flames. Use a commercial oven cooking bag.
- If you do have a cooking fire, leave quickly. Do not try to put out the fire yourself. Close the door to contain the fire. If you do attempt to fight the fire, make sure others leave and you have a clear exit.
For more information on Thanksgiving cooking safety, visit the websites of the National Fire Protection Association and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.