Each year, Goffstown Fire Chief Richard O’Brien and firefighters around the state find themselves responding to a cornucopia of cooking incidents. Oven fires, stovetop fires, not to mention the occasional turkey fryer that boiled over and quickly became engulfed in flames.
According to data from the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office, fire departments have been called to at least 17 "confined cooking fires" during the week of Thanksgiving for the past five years. In the same time period, fire departments also responded to dozens of structural fires across the state, which includes cooking but also other types of incidents.
It's not just New Hampshire, though. Thanksgiving is a busy day for fire departments across the country, according to the National Fire Protection Association: In 2013, for example, the NFPA says the holiday saw 1,550 such incidents, or 230 percent more than the average daily rate.
So if you’re on turkey duty — or juggling any other recipes— this Thanksgiving, O'Brien has a few pieces of advice.
Keep your stovetop, your oven and your pots and pans clean. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher hand in case of any flames.
If you happen to encounter an oven fire, close the oven as soon as possible — to avoid letting the fire spread — before calling the fire department.
And as hard as it is to not run to the living room to greet guests as they arrive, O’Brien says the chef should always stay put to keep an eye on the food.
"Once you're in the kitchen, I tell everybody: Stay in the kitchen," O'Brien advised. "And, if you have family members showing up, have them show up in the kitchen — but don't leave the kitchen and leave anything unattended."
If you do go for a fried turkey, experts say you should never fry a turkey that's still frozen, and never use the device inside your garage or close to your house. It's also important not to pour too much oil into the vat, and keep a close eye on the fryer in case it boils over.
To make sure you don't have to invite the fire department over this Thanksgiving, check out these resources for more food and fire safety tips:
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: "Stand By Your Pan"
- New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office Thanksgiving Safety Fact Sheet
- National Fire Protection Association Thanksgiving Safety Tips (And a warning about turkey fryers)
- American Red Cross: "Stay Safe As You Cook that Holiday Meal"
And for one final illustration of the importance of practicing safe turkey prep, here's a video shared recently by the Gorham NH Fire & EMS Facebook page.
The Wayland Fire Department wants you to enjoy your turkey, no matter how you like to cook it, but remember….. NEVER DEEP FRY A FROZEN TURKEY. Make sure your turkey is fully thawed and the oil level is low enough before dropping it into that vat of scalding hot oil or else disaster, injury and fire are sure to follow.Please note this video is a demonstration to illustrate the dangers associated with improperly deep frying a turkey. Please note the mistakes made in this video are intended to be educational.
Posted by Wayland FIRE Department on Thursday, November 19, 2015