Be safe while cooking this Thanksgiving

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a good time for a reminder that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Thanksgiving leads the charge annually for residential fires involving cooking equipment.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and Suffolk Fire & Rescue would like to remind residents of the following safety tips in order to keep your loved ones safe from fire hazards this Thanksgiving:

  • Keep a close watch on your cooking. You should never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Keep oven food packaging and other combustibles such as pot holders and dishtowels away from burners and heat sources.
  • Heat cooking oil slowly and watch it closely; it can ignite quickly.
  • Don’t wear loose sleeves while working over hot stove burners — they can melt, ignite or catch on handles of pots and pans spilling hot oil and other liquids.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot foods or drinks are prepared or carried.
  • Keep a lid nearby to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Turn all handles from pots and pans inward so you don’t knock them off of the stove.
  • Don’t leave candles unattended, and keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
    Of course, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey.  And deep-fried turkey has become a favorite Thanksgiving tradition in many households. But if used improperly, an overloaded fryer can easily tip over and set an entire house ablaze. Backyard chefs should follow these helpful tips when deep-frying a turkey:
  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
  • Never use turkey fryers in a garage or on a wooden deck.
  • Make sure the fryers are used on a flat surface to reduce accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you do not watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer, even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use.
  • To avoid oil spillover, do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. If possible, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed, and be careful with marinades. Oil and water do not mix, and water causes oil to spill over, causing a fire or even an explosion hazard.
  • The National Turkey Federation (NTF) recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds in weight.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. If the fire is manageable, use your all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 911 for help.
  • To keep your family safe, make sure you have smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area, and in every bedroom. Test smoke alarms monthly and replace them if they are 10 years old or older.

Suffolk Fire & Rescue recognizes that Thanksgiving is a time of food, fun, and fellowship with loved ones. As you sit down with family and friends this Thanksgiving, they want you to be safe. For more information on home fire safety, call 757-514-4540, or email fireprevbureau@suffolkva.us.