"Simply being aware of fire hazards is a first step, taking the actions necessary to avoid them is the most crucial step," said Smith. "Don’t be one of the thousands of Americans who will die in fires this year; follow these easy steps to keep your home and your family safe from the threat of fire and its consequences."
Smith said the same thing happens every year as the holidays approach--people's minds are focused on holiday parties, shopping, family reunion dinners and putting up decorations. "The farthest thing from everyone's thoughts is fire safety," he said.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, cooking turkeys can be a real threat, Smith said, especially frying turkeys. "You are nearly twice as likely to have a fire on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year," Smith said.
In the United States, there has been an estimated average of 4,300 fires per year on Thanksgiving Day. From 2006-2008 these fires resulted in an average of 10 deaths, 50 injuries and over $30 million dollars in property loss.
Here’s why using a turkey fryer can be dangerous:
Although some manufacturers have improved the stability of their fryers, some units could tip over, spilling hot oil out of the cooking pot.
If the cooking pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill out of the unit when the frozen turkey is placed into the cooking pot. Oil may hit the burner/flames, causing fire to engulf the entire unit.
Partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can also cause a spillover effect, resulting in a flash fire or an extensive fire.
If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer, here are some tips for safer use:
Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, located a safe distance from buildings and any other flammable materials.
Never use turkey fryers on wooden decks or in garages.
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 don’t watch the fryer carefully, the oil will continue to heat until it catches fire.
Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. After use, continue to exercise extreme caution as the oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot for hours.
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 don’t mix and water can cause oil to spill over, starting a fire or even an explosion hazard.
The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird thawed in the refrigerator.
Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. Remember to use your best judgment when attempting to fight a fire. If the fire is manageable, use an all-purpose fire extinguisher. If the fire increases, immediately call 9-1-1 for help.
Fire Chief Smith and the Zachary Fire Department would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
NEXT WEEK: More holiday fire safety news will be published in the Zachary Plainsman-News.