Stuffing, tryptophan and house fires? NFPA warns of cooking fires this Thanksgiving


A Thanksgiving meal is seen in an undated file photo. (Getty Images)

(WSYR-TV) — Families all across our viewing area will gather next week for Thanksgiving. And while the time is spent being with loved ones, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) want everyone to remember safety when preparing their feast. 

Thanksgiving is prime for home cooking fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Data shows that 1,630 home cooking fires too place in 2018. Which is one of the leading causes of home fires and fire deaths. 

“Fire departments across the state have responded to an increased number of home kitchen fires since the beginning of the COVID pandemic,” said FASNY President John P. Farrell. “With many people staying home, increased meal preparations and added distractions can lead to fires. We urge all New Yorkers to follow some simple safety tips to avoid a holiday accident.” 

Deep frying turkeys is the leading culprit during Thanksgiving. Fryers should be used outside and those using this method should make sure the turkeys are completely thawed. 

FASNY and the National Fire Protection Agency give the following tips: 

  • Remain in the kitchen while cooking.  Whether you’re frying, grilling, baking or broiling food, it’s always a good idea to supervise cooking directly.   
  • Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for “just a second.”  A second is all it takes for a house fire to start. 
  • If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind yourself that you’re cooking. 
  • For homes with children, have the kids remain outside the kitchen area while food is being prepared. Pets should also be kept out of the kitchen while cooking. The safest chef is an undistracted chef! 
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are functioning by pressing the “test” button.  If needed, replace the batteries – and if not functioning after testing, install brand-new smoke alarms. 
  • Deep-frying turkeys is extremely dangerous, especially when done without care. 
  • If a turkey fryer must be used, follow these tips 
    • 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. 

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