Fire Safety Tips for a Safe & Happy Turkey Day
On Thanksgiving Day, the number of home cooking fires triples across the country. Sure, Turkey Day has always had us bustling around the kitchen with hot pans popping in and out of the oven and pots bubbling and gurgling all day. But, it’s the ever-growing trend of deep-fried turkey that has these numbers going up each year. According to a 2013 report on home fires and cooking equipment by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving was the leading day for home cooking fires in 2011, with a total of 1,210 reported fires, a 183% increase over the daily average!
By 2013 (the year with the most recent data available), that number had gone up to 1,550 cooking fires on the holiday, a 230% increase over the daily average. The NFPA doesn’t encourage the use of deep frying something as large as a turkey, and recommends new “oil-less” fryers as an alternative. But, you just can’t resist, here are a few things to consider if you’re foregoing the oven for a deep-fryer this year (for more resources and tips, please visit NFPA’s website):
- Don’t even think about trying this indoors. Set up your propane fryer on a flat surface outside, as far away from houses, garages, wooden decks, and trees as possible. Concrete is a safer surface than wood or grass, but keep in mind that it can be stained by the oil. And, never leave it alone—once the burner is lit, make sure someone is keeping an eye on it at all times.
- Thaw the turkey completely before letting it anywhere near the fryer. A bird that’s still even partially frozen contains a considerable amount of water, which, as you may recall, doesn’t always get along well with oil. That water, when it hits the hot oil, will expand in volume—at best it’ll create some splatter, and at worst it’ll cause a potentially destructive and dangerous explosion and fire.
- The oil’s temperature will drop once you lower the turkey down into it, which means you’ll want to crank up the heat in the beginning. But, keep in mind with the higher temperature, the higher the risk of injury or damage due to possible splatter.
- Speaking of splatter, do your best to avoid it at all costs. Using a rack or basket, lower the turkey into the vat of oil slowly and carefully. One of the most common causes of fryer-related fires is excess oil spilling onto the piping hot burner, which can cause both injury and property damage.
- Not all deep fryers allow for accurate temperature control, which can make it easy for the oil to overheat and cause a fire. Consider investing in a thermometer made specifically for deep fryers.
- Just because you’ve turned the burner off doesn’t mean you’re home free—when you remove the turkey from the oil, lift as slowly and carefully as you lowered.
Of course, deep-frying isn’t the only cooking hazard during the holidays. Here are a few other points to keep in mind while you’re prepping your mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, and pie:
- Just because your kitchen is packed with people doesn’t mean they’re paying attention to what’s happening on the stove. If you need to leave the room while something’s cooking, ask someone else to watch over it until you get back.
- Double check your cookware before you get started. If a pan is too flimsy or its walls are too short, juices can bubble over onto the bottom of the oven and start a fire.
- It’s a holiday, so the wine may be a-flowin’—just not so much that you forget to use oven mitts to remove the pie or turn off the burners. Drink responsibly and pay attention.
- This one applies to every room in the house, not just the kitchen: Check the smoke alarms. You should be doing this frequently throughout the year anyway, but especially right before the holidays when your home may be full of people.
From Harrington Group, Inc. to you and yours, have a happy, safe, and fire-free Thanksgiving!