According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to the U.S. Fire Administration’s National departments each year and cause an estimated average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss.
Smaller, confined fires account for 71 percent of Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.
"Too often we see where citizens make the critical mistake of thinking they can put out a fire on their own," warns Fulton County Fire Chief Larry Few. "Don't risk your safety, leave the fire-fighting to those who have been trained for it."
Cooking is the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings. American fire departments respond to over 1,000 fires every year involving a deep fryer.
Safety precautions while cooking Thanksgiving dinner can help prevent cooking-related fires. Following are some key steps to a safe Thanksgiving:
• Use turkey fryers outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other combustible materials.
• Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
• Make sure fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
• Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
• Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
• To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
• Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
• Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix; water causes oil to spill over causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
• The National Turkey Federation recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
• Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
Few cautions citizens that in the event of a fire, immediately call the fire department for help.