Kentucky State Fire Marshal William Swope is warning residents about leaving food unattended while cooking over the holidays.
The National Fire Protection Association lists Thanksgiving as one of the leading days for home cooking fires. State officials are specifically discouraging the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil, which often lead to devastating burns and other serious injuries.
Swope says the danger is increased because the equipment is readily available to amateur cooks.
“Everyone needs to be extremely careful with using the fryers. Frying turkeys has become very popular within the state and across the country for that matter. You’re dealing with hot grease that can cause a fire very easily and remember, if you do have that type of grease fire that you cannot extinguish that with water,” he says.
From 2005 to 2009, fire departments across the country responded to an average of 155,000 home fires annually on Thanksgiving. The fires caused nearly 400 civilian deaths per year along with 4,800 injuries and $771 million in direct property damage.
From 2005 to 2009, the National Fire Protection Association reported about 155,000 house fires on Thanksgiving. Those fires caused nearly 400 civilian deaths along with 4,800 injuries and $771 million in direct property damage.
And while Swope says gas-fueled turkey fryers are a problem, he warns the biggest concerns are people who don’t pay attention while cooking and leave food unattended.
“You may put something in the oven or on the stove and run out to pick up another ingredient or to do some quick shopping,” he says. “You may get delayed or you may forget all about it and again that’s really a recipe for disaster.”
The state has released a number of safety tips to reduce the risk of cooking fires, including staying in the kitchen while cooking and keeping anything flammable away from cooking areas.
If you have a cooking fire, the state fire marshal’s office has also provided the following instructions:
Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
When in doubt, just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
Call 9-1-1 after you leave.