Don't let a cooking fire spoil Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 | 3:47 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — While preparing for a holiday filled with the aroma of turkey and grateful blessings, don't overlook the dangers of cooking-related fires.

There were three times more cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day in 2009 than the daily average, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Throughout the year, cooking fires top the list of home fires and related injuries. Firefighters were called to an average of 155,400 home cooking fires in the U.S. from 2005 to 2009, the association reported, with a yearly average of 390 deaths and 4,800 injuries.

The association suggests these precautions for cooking during the holidays:

  • Keep oven mitts, packaging and other flammable materials away from the top of the stove.
  • Don't leave the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling.
  • Don't use the stove if you're sleepy or have consumed alcoholic beverages.

Frying turkeys has become so popular the Boone County Fire Prevention District issued specific safety tips.

Gale Blomenkamp, battalion chief of Boone County Fire Protection District, said one dangerous practice is frying turkeys before they're fully defrosted. The ice or water in the turkey will react with the hot oil, causing oil to splatter and potentially catch on fire, he said.

The Boone County Fire District offers these safety tips for cooking:

  • Always use turkey fryers outdoors and keep a safe distance from buildings.
  • Never fry a turkey on a wooden deck or in a garage.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer, even after it's been turned off. The oil can remain dangerously hot for hours.
  • To avoid a spillover, don't put too much oil in the fryer.

  • Make sure the turkey is fully thawed and be careful with marinades. Oil and water don’t mix.

If a fire breaks out and is manageable, Blomenkamp suggests an all-purpose extinguisher.

“If the fire increases, the best way is always calling 911 immediately,” he said.

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