Officials Warn About Turkey Fires

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Thanksgiving can mean disaster if proper cooking precautions aren’t taken, the fire department warns.

Each year, nearly 4,300 fires in the US occur on Thanksgiving, causing approximately 15 fatalities, 50 injuries and nearly $27 million in property damage, according to the Newport Beach Fire Department.

“With fire-wise sense, you can ensure a tragedy does not come between you and the festive holiday you have planned,” a Thanksgiving safety statement from the NBFD reads.

Last year, Newport firefighters responded to 35 incidents on Thanksgiving, two of which were cooking-related, according to fire department spokeswoman Jennifer Schulz. One was an oven fire and the other was a turkey fryer that had overflowed but was put out by the resident. The fryer was outdoors and no one was injured.

“Thankfully, we haven’t had any major (cooking-related incidents) in the recent past,” Schulz said.

Oven and grease fires are fairly common, she said. Turkey fryers also raise a few issues, she added. If the oil isn’t accurately measured before heating up and inserting the turkey, it can overflow and burn people or catch on fire.

“Make sure to leave room for the bird,” Schulz said.

Also remember to completely thaw the bird before cooking. And be sure to keep the fryer outside, preferably on concrete, she added. Do not place them in the garage or on a wood deck and make sure they are on a flat surface and don’t wobble, the department’s safety message warns.

If people carefully follow the instructions, they should be fine, she said, but cooks often get over-excited and don’t read them.

Don’t leave fryers unattended, and carefully watch the oil.

“Most units do not have thermostat controls. If you don’t watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire,” according to the safety statement. “The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot, hours after use.”

Be sure to use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts and consider wearing safety goggles to protect against oil splatter.

Another thing to remember, Schulz said, is that water will cause a grease fire to explode. Use a class B chemical fire extinguisher or baking soda (if the blaze isn‘t too big), not flour, to put out a grease fire.

The fire department also recommends informing any overnight guests of the fire escape plan and checking all smoke detectors.

“Start holiday cooking with a clean oven and stove,” to avoid oven fires, the NBFD Thanksgiving safety message states.

Keep the kitchen off-limits to children and adults that aren’t helping, the message continues. Cooks should not wear loose sleeves that could catch on fire or dangling jewelry that catch a pot handle and tip it over.

The fire department’s safety message also stresses precaution with decorations and candles.

Video by Cobb County (Ga.) Fire Department

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