Study: Thanksgiving Day most dangerous for cooking fires

Study: Thanksgiving Day most dangerous for cooking fires

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For a day that puts so much focus on home-cooked meals, it's probably not surprising that it's also the most dangerous when it comes to cooking-related fires.

What may be surprising is how much more risk is associated with Thanksgiving Day, however. Three times as many fires are reported on the holiday versus other days of the year, according to the South Carolina News Insurance Service.

Insurers say South Carolina ranks among the top 10 states in Thanksgiving Day fires.

"Being cautious and using your cooking appliances as directed will go a long way towards helping avoid losses and keep your family safe this holiday season," SCINS Executive Director Russ Dubisky said.

The organization offers these tips to keep indoor cooking safer:

  • Remain in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. Unattended cooking is by far the leading factor in kitchen fires.
  • If you must leave home for even a short time, turn off the stove or oven.
  • Whether simmering, baking, boiling or roasting food, check it regularly. Use a timer to remind you the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep things that burn – including pot holders, oven mitts, paper or plastic, away from the stove.
  • Check the inside of the oven before you turn it on. Don't store things that can burn in an oven, microwave or toaster oven.
  • Clean food and grease off burners, stovetops and ovens.
  • Wear clothing with sleeves that are short, close fitting or tightly rolled up.
  • Use the stove's back burners when possible, and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk that pots with hot contents will be knocked over.

If you're frying a turkey, the organization recommends:

  • Always fry turkeys outside, away from any structure and on a hard, flat surface, preferably on concrete. Never cook on a wooden porch or deck, as the wood can catch fire if oil spills. Never cook in a garage, breezeway or carport.
  • Make sure the turkey is fully thawed before putting it into the oil.
  • Allow the oil to thoroughly cool before emptying. Hot oil can take 3 to 4 hours to cool to room temperature.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby.

And if you do have a cooking fire, these tips can help keep things from getting out of control:

  • Use a lid – kept 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 cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
  • If you try to fight the fire, make sure others get out and you have a clear way out. Remember, three of every five people hurt in cooking fires were injured when they tried to put the fire out themselves.
  • When in doubt, just get out! Close the door behind you to contain the fire.
  • Call 911 after you get outside.

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