How to Prevent Michigan Cooking Fires on Thanksgiving Day
More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. According to State Farm claims data from 2005-2009, grease and cooking-related claims more than double on Thanksgiving Day compared to an average day in November.
With the popularity of turkey frying increasing, U.S. fire departments are responding to more than 1,000 fires each year in which a deep fryer is involved. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says deep fryer fires cause an average of 5 deaths, 60 injuries, and more than $15 million in property damage each year.
“One of the worst things that can happen with turkey frying is getting splattered with hot oil,” says Eddie Bain, Investigation and Prevention Program Director at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI). “It will cause burns that are worse than fire because of frying oil sticks to you. It can burn an adult very badly, but a child could easily be covered from head to foot in oil splatter, resulting in potentially fatal burns.”
Tips to prevent Thanksgiving cooking fires:
Most turkey fryer fires are preventable. Recognizing common mistakes is a critical step in reducing your risk of a fire or potentially fatal burns.
- Too much oil in the fryer pot – If the cooking pot is overfilled, the oil may spill out of the pot when the turkey is lowered in. Oil can hit the burner and cause a fire. Follow the owner’s manual to determine the proper amount of oil to use.
- Dropping a frozen or partially thawed turkey into the oil – Frozen or partially frozen turkeys placed into the fryer can cause a spillover and may result in a fire. Make sure your turkey is properly thawed and slowly lower it into the pot to prevent oil from splashing.
- Fryer is too close to structures – More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors and away from flammables; maintain a safe distance from any buildings and keep the fryer off any wooden structures.
- Oil and water don’t mix – When ice comes into contact with hot oil, the water vaporizes, causing steam bubbles to pop and spray hot oil. Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire. Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby and immediately call 911 for help.
- Unattended cooking – Frying involves cooking with a combustible medium, namely the cooking oil or grease. Many frying units do not have thermostat controls and if left unwatched, the oil will continue to heat until the point of combustion.
State rankings based on the number of cooking fire claims on Thanksgiving Day:
About the Illinois Fire Service Institute
The Illinois Fire Service Institute is the statutory fire academy for the state of Illinois. In addition to the training provided at the Champaign campus, the Institute offers DHS grant-approved technical rescue, HAZMAT and NIMS training, hands-on fire officer training, online classes and conducts training throughout the state at Regional Training Centers and local fire stations. The mission of the Illinois Fire Service Institute is to help firefighters do their work through training, education, information, and research.
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