Kitchens everywhere are gearing up for the Main Event – roasting turkeys for Thanksgiving. And home cooks, whether experienced or new to preparing holiday dinners, need to remember a few safety tips to keep from becoming a Thanksgiving Day statistic.
According to data from National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving Day represents the leading day of the year for home cooking fires. Between three and four times as many cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as a typical day of the year.
“Thanksgiving is a hectic holiday, with multiple dishes cooking and baking at the same time, along with lots of guests, entertaining, and other distractions in the home that can make it easy to lose sight of what’s on the stove or in the oven,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, so we strongly encourage people keep a close eye on what they’re cooking and to minimize the likelihood of getting distracted.”
NFPA data shows that cooking was the leading cause of reported home structure fires and civilian fire injuries and the second-leading cause of civilian fire deaths and direct property damage, on annual average between 2015-2019. On Thanksgiving Day alone, an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires were reported to U.S. fire departments in 2019, reflecting a 228 percent increase over the daily average.
“The good news is that the vast majority of cooking fires are preventable,” said Carli. “By taking simple steps and precautions to minimize the likelihood of having a cooking fire, everyone can enjoy a festive, fire-safe Thanksgiving.”
In addition, NFPA strongly discourages the use of turkey fryers that use cooking oil, which can cause devastating burns. For a safe alternative, NFPA recommends purchasing a fried turkey from a grocery store or restaurant or buying a fryer that does not use oil.