We've all seen the Allstate commercial with the guy standing in a leaf-filled backyard by a turkey deep fryer. He tells us that "of the two million people who deep fried their turkeys last year, 15 succeeded in setting their homes on fire."
Great ad, but can Thanksgiving dinner really be so dangerous?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings each year in the United States, resulting in an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property losses.
To stay truly safe this Thanksgiving, ditch the deep fryer. Turkey fryers are one of the most dangerous appliances on the market. Every year, splattered hot oil leads to tragic, unintended house fires.
"In recent years, deep-frying turkeys has become increasingly popular," said Haddam Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Gary Klare. "Though we prefer it if deep-fried turkey enthusiasts get their precooked bird from the grocery store, specialty food retailer or a restaurant, residents who still choose to use their own turkey fryer should use extreme caution."
If deep fry you must, click here for some safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.
But if you're anything like me, the kitchen is your domain, and cooking on the big day means juggling a lot of pots boiling on the stove and switching out hot dishes from the oven. Trying to "do it all" makes it all too easy to turn around and find something on fire.
Less is more, whether you're a seasoned pro or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Too much multi-tasking — including too many pets, kids and drinks — can be a recipe for disaster.
To be safe, even if you burn the rolls and set off the smoke alarm, ventilate the kitchen and leave it connected. It's annoying to hear the occasional beep as you cook, but it can save your life, and the lives of your guests. Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy. The extinguisher should be rated for grease and electrical fires. Remember the acronym P.A.S.S.: Pull the pin; Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire; Squeeze the nozzle to spray; Sweep back and forth at the base of the fire.
Another good idea is to clean your stove prior to cooking. Grease builds up on burners and cooktops. Avoid grease fires by scrubbing down the stove prior to cooking.
In the event of a fire, turn off or unplug the oven or microwave and keep the door closed until the fire burns out. If a fire starts on the stove, turn off the burner and slide a lid on the pan.
With Thanksgiving just days away, help keep your community safe by spreading cooking fire safety tips in your community. The NFPA has developed a Thanksgiving and Cooking Safety Tips webpage here. In addition to tips, this resource includes conversation starters, Thanksgiving e-cards, a Sparky Mad Lib and a "thankful" tree.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.