The Illinois state fire marshal is offering safety tips for cooking on Thanksgiving, which is the leading day for home fires when four times the average number of fires occur.
Ranges and cooktops account for almost three out of every five home fires reported involving cooking, with ovens accounting for 13% of those fires.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), each year from 2017 to 2019, an estimated average of 2,300 residential building fires were reported to fire departments in the United States on Thanksgiving Day.
These fires caused an estimated annual average of 5 deaths, 25 injuries and $26 million in property loss.
U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 166,100 home fires per year involving cooking equipment.
“Thanksgiving has arrived and that means many people will be working overtime in their kitchens. I encourage everyone to check to make sure your cooking equipment is working properly and call a professional to fix them if needed,” Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez said.
“By following a few simple fire safety tips, your holiday will be enjoyable and free from a fire related incident,” Perez said.
“Anytime food and flames are involved, we must always remember that fire safety is important. While deep-frying a turkey may add irresistible flavor, and juiciness to your Thanksgiving menu there is also the potential of fire and serious injury when doing so,” said Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.
Perez said it is important to never leave food that you are frying, boiling, grilling or broiling unattended. “If you leave the kitchen, even for a short amount of time, turn off the stove.”
When frying a turkey, make sure to not overfill oil in the fryer. “Fill the pot you plan to use to fry the turkey with water and place the turkey in. This will help to determine how much oil is needed without causing oil to spill out when you are ready to fry, which could lead to a fire.”
Perez also said to only use turkey fryers outdoors and to make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying.
“Create a “Kid Free Zone” of at least three feet around the stove or anywhere you are preparing hot food or drinks. Keep the area around the stove clear of towels, papers, potholders or anything that can burn,” he said.
“If there is a fire in the oven, keep the door shut and turn off the heat. Smother small flames in a pan by sliding a lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and leave the lid over the pan while it cools. If you have any doubt fighting a small fire, just get out! Call 9-1-1 or your emergency number from outside the home,” Perez added.