Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is a time of year when serious fires occur. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 2,000 Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an average of five deaths, 25 injuries and $21 million in property loss. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that on Thanksgiving Day, three times the average number of cooking fires occur across the United States.
Cooking is the leading cause of fires and fire-related injuries both in Las Vegas and across the nation. Cooking fires are easily preventable. Las Vegas Fire & Rescue offers these tips for safer cooking this holiday:
When deep frying turkeys, there are number of things to remember:
Only use an approved turkey fryer with four legs and a built-in thermostat so proper oil temperature can be maintained. Make sure the fryer cannot tip over, a major cause of most fires.
Fry outdoors, away from buildings and other combustible items. Never use a fryer indoors. Keep children and pets away while frying.
Follow instructions on what size turkey should be used, how it should be cooked and what type of oil to use.
Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and dry. Do not stuff the bird and don’t forget to take out the bag of gizzards. Lower the turkey into the hot oil slowly.
Never leave the fryer unattended. Wear fry gloves; regular oven mittens may not be insulated enough.
Splashing oil can cause a flash fire and serious burns, so be careful.
Outside cooking devices used at apartment complexes must be kept at least 10 feet from any building or wall, cannot be under an overhang (such as a balcony) and cannot be used above the first floor (on patios of upper floors). This includes turkey fryers.
When cooking in the kitchen:
Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in Thanksgiving-day fires. Something that caught fire because it was too close to the equipment ranked second, and unintentionally turned on or not turned off equipment ranked third.
Three-fifths (57 percent) of reported home cooking fire injuries occurred when victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don't use the stove or stovetop.
Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
Keep anything that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains, away from your stovetop.
When cooking indoors using a natural gas or propane stove, make sure there is not a buildup of carbon monoxide in the home. The stove is a common source of carbon monoxide in the home, especially if you are cooking for several hours. Run any vents you have in the kitchen, especially the one over the stove. You should open windows/doors in the kitchen at least once each hour to allow fresh air to circulate into the kitchen.
In case of fire:
In the case of a stove fire, shut off the stove and cover the burning pan with a lid or use a fire extinguisher. Do not throw water, salt, flour or any other substance on the fire; these substances can cause the fire to flare. Do not try to move a burning pan outside.
If there is a fire inside the oven, shut it off and leave the door shut. Call 9-1-1 and report the fire and leave the home until firefighters arrive.
If the fire is too large, or you feel you cannot handle it, have everyone in the home evacuate, go to a safe place like a neighbor’s home and call 9-1-1.
Other holiday safety tips include:
Make sure you have a properly operating smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm in the home.
If using candles for decorations, never leave them unattended and keep combustible items away at least 12 inches. L.E.D. candles are an excellent alternative.
If you allow smoking in your home, make sure that all smoking material is properly discarded.
Do not use a barbecue or other outside cooking device inside the home for heating. This is occasionally done especially during parties. The fire or smoldering coals will produce deadly carbon monoxide gas and can overcome everyone in the building without warning, sometimes with deadly consequences.
More fireplace fires occur on Thanksgiving Day in the United States, than any other day of the year. If you use a fireplace, make sure the damper is open and the chimney flue is clear to allow smoke and gases to escape properly. Only one log should be permitted to burn at a time. The flame should never go above the lentil (the top part of the fireplace on the inside.) Discard ashes into a pail of water and let them soak for several hours before discarding. Do not discard ashes in the trash or store them in cardboard boxes or trash bags.
When retiring for the evening, make a final inspection of your home and ensure that all appliances, especially the stove, are turned off. If you used outside appliances such as a barbecue or turkey fryer, make sure the gas is off and ashes are put in a pail of water.
Check to ensure any decorations, such as lights, are turned off and candles have been extinguished.
If smoking was permitted in your home, check all furniture for improperly discarded smoking material. Take all trash outside and keep it away from the house.