Firefighters Stress Cooking Safety This Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Did you know? One day of the year has 3 to 4 times more fires than any other day: Thanksgiving.

Los Angeles Firefighters understand the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving. That's why we are stressing the importance of kitchen safety, especially during holidays when there is increased activity and people in the home.

It is our hope that the following eight points will help your family enjoy mealtime, while greatly reducing the chances of unexpectedly inviting us to your family gathering.

Turkey Dinner

  1. Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove-top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  2. Keep children 3 feet away from the hot stove.
  3. Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  4. Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over toys, bags, or other items.
  5. Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  6. Be sure electric cords from an electric carving knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  7. Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.
  8. Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.

Nothing saddens a firefighter more than to see a child suffer a needless injury or lose their home. We know many kids love to be involved in holiday preparations, therefore we encourage having activities that keep children out of the kitchen during this busy time. Games, puzzles or books can keep them engaged, or provide preparations with recipes that can be done outside the kitchen.

Something you may not have thought about...

Ensure a foodborne illness does not become part of your holiday memories.  You can download a free kit of food safety tips (USDA Kitchen Companion: Your Safe Food Handbook, PDF), about preparing and serving a variety of meats and side dishes during the holidays without spreading foodborne illness.

Of particular concern to firefighters this holiday season is the increased popularity of deep-fried turkey - a meal that can cause backyard chefs to sacrifice safety in the interest of taste. 

Why a turkey fryer can be dangerous:

  • Many units easily tip over, spilling hot cooking oil over a large area.
  • If the cooking pot is overfilled, or a partially frozen turkey is used, hot and flammable cooking oil will spill.
  • Even a small amount of cooking oil coming into contact with the burner can cause a large fire.
  • With no thermostat controls, the deep fryers have the potential to overheat the oil to the point of combustion.
  • The sides of the cooking pot, lid and pot handles get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.

If you absolutely must use a turkey fryer, these tips will help you "fry the turkey, not your home":

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors, on a solid level surface a safe distance from buildings and flammable materials.
  • Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck, under a patio cover, in a garage or any enclosed space.
  • Remember that overfilling the fryer will lead to danger.
  • Use well-insulated potholders or oven mitts when touching pot or lid handles. Wear long sleeves and safety goggles to protect you from oil splatter.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. The National Turkey Federation recommends refrigerator thawing and to allow approximately 24 hours for every five pounds of bird.
  • Be careful with marinades. Remember that oil and water don't mix. Even a small amount of moisture can cause oil to spill over, leading to a fire or explosion hazard.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Frying a turkey requires full-time adult attention.
  • Never let children or pets near the fryer when in use. Even hours after use, the oil inside can remain dangerously hot.
  • Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby, and know its proper use and limitations. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire!
  • If a turkey fryer fire occurs, have some immediately call 9-1-1.
  • Use your best judgment. If the fire is manageable and you can do so safely, use the all-purpose fire extinguisher.

We hope you safely enjoy friends and family, sharing a good meal, conversation, and laughter.

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