Thanksgiving is one of the most joyous times of the year, a time when friends and family gather together to celebrate and give thanks. Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center offers some simple advice and tips to help residents stay safe during the holiday. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2015, fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated 1,760 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, making it the busiest such day of the year. Unattended cooking is by far the leading cause of home fire deaths and injuries.
“Thanksgiving kicks off a great time of year that we are gathered with family and friends,” said John V. Murray, Nassau County Firefighters Museum’s Chief Fire Safety Instructor. “We strongly urge all Long Islanders to take fire safety seriously during the holiday season, and to follow some simple tips to avoid a tragedy. We wish everybody a very happy and safe Thanksgiving and ask that nobody ever hesitate to call 911 in the event of an emergency, even on a holiday.”
The most common factors in home cooking fires and ways to avoid them:
This is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short time, turn off the stove. If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly. Remain at home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind yourself that you are cooking, as guests, phones, children, pets and other activity can easily distract a cook.
Objects near the cooking catching fire
Clothing ignitions lead to approximately 16 percent of home cooking fire deaths. It is important to wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves as loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners or gas flames and catch fire. Keep the cooking area clean and combustible materials away from your stove top as built-up grease, oven mitts, food packaging, wooden utensils, towels and other materials on or near the stove can catch fire.
Cooking equipment unintentionally turned on or not turned off
Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop. Have children turned the stove on?
Turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in cooking oil at high temperatures pose a significant danger of hot oil being released or spilled during cooking, leading to devastating burns, other injuries and property destruction.
Hot cooking oil exposed to water or outdoor elements
If rain or snow strikes hot cooking oil in propane-fired turkey fryers designed for outdoor use, the result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the precipitation to steam, which can lead to burns. Frozen and defrosting turkeys also create the risk of contact between water and hot cooking oil, which can cause severe scalding or other serious injury.
If you do have a cooking fire, the important thing is to get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire, then call 911 or the local emergency number. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Do not use water to put out a grease fire; use an appropriate fire extinguisher, or baking soda, salt, or a tight lid.
Visit the NFPA’s website, www.nfpa.org, for more information on fire safety.
—Submitted by the National Fire Protection Association