Fire safety for your home and family this Thanksgiving

J. H. Osborne • Nov 21, 2018 at 11:37 AM

As folks prepare to spend more time than usual in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving meals, The Kingsport Fire Department offers these tips for a safe holiday.

• Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

• Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.

• Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.

• Make sure children stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

• Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

• Keep knives out of the reach of children.

• Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

• Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.

• Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.

• Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

• All guests in your home should know two ways out in case of fire.

Thanksgiving by the numbers

• Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and the day before Thanksgiving.

• In 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,570 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

• Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in cooking fires and fire deaths.

• Cooking equipment was involved in almost half of all reported home fires and home fire injuries, and it is the second-leading cause of home fire deaths.

Turkey fryers

The National Fire Protection Association discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil.

The association continues its opinion that turkey fryers that use cooking oil, as currently designed, are not suitable for safe use by even a well-informed and careful consumer, according to its website.

"These turkey fryers use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures and units currently available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process," the association states. "In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil. The use of turkey fryers by consumers can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property. NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants, for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of ‘oil-less’ turkey fryer."

If you do decide to deep fry a turkey

Some tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

• Turkey fryers can easily tip over spilling hot oil across a large area. Use your turkey fryer only outdoors on a sturdy, level surface well away from things that can burn. Make sure to have a “3-foot kid- and pet-free zone” around your turkey fryer to protect against burn injuries.

• An overfilled cooking pot will cause oil to spill over when the turkey is placed inside. Determine the correct amount of oil needed by first placing the turkey in the pot with water.

• A partially frozen turkey will cause hot oil to splatter. Make sure your turkey is completely thawed before you fry it.

• Turkey fryers can easily overheat and start a fire. Check the temperature often with a cooking thermometer so the oil won’t overheat.

• The pot, lid and handles of a turkey fryer can get dangerously hot and cause burn injuries.

• Use long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle these items.

• Keep outdoor fryers off decks, out of garages and a safe distance away from trees and other structures.

• Watch the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or snow.

• Place the fryer on a level surface, and avoid moving it once it's in use.

• Never leave fryers unattended.