Don’t Let Thanksgiving End In A Devastating Blaze

Northwest Iowa — It’s about time to roast, fry, or smoke the bird, prepare the traditional family side dishes, and sit down to a huge feast to be thankful for our blessings. But fire safety officials are encouraging people to remember the importance of fire safety this Thanksgiving holiday.

Nationwide, Thanksgiving day is the peak day for home cooking fires. South Dakota State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman says that makes home fire safety even more important.

He says that many people love to cook for this holiday or use candles, fireplaces, and other heating sources to create that festive atmosphere in their homes. But it is also easy to forget about fire safety and that could prove to be dangerous.

Merriman says it is important, at all times of the year, to have working smoke alarms on each level of the home.

We talked with Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls about it. He says one of the most dangerous Thanksgiving cooking activities is deep-frying a turkey in a propane fryer.

(as said:) “You’re dealing with a lot of heat, flame, and grease which most of the times doesn’t mix if you’re not careful. I always recommend that it’s obviously an open area. You have to — have to — watch that almost the entire time while you’re cooking that, but it’s very common thing now. A lot of people like that type of turkey, but that open flame and grease if it boils over that’s pretty much where they get the fires. If it’s unattended or if somebody’s not experienced enough to use those things — they better read up on the instructions because they could cause major damage. And of course burns. It’s just a matter of keeping a fire extinguisher handy. Just be precautionary when you’re doing it. Just don’t take it lightly because they are very dangerous.”

Some experts advise not using turkey fryers to begin with. The National Fire Protection Association (or NFPA) says turkey fryers pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil, so they strongly discourage their use.

Huls says even cooking your turkey the traditional way poses some fire risk, especially if your oven is not clean. He gives us some other tips about kitchen safety. He says a big one involves stovetop cooking.

(as said:) “Turn your handles in — especially with a lot of children running around and the holidays the family’s there. That’s when people get hurt when they don’t see the handle sticking out and then boiling water or corn or whatever you cooking on the top side tends to spill over and people that have gas stoves — they also have to take precautions for that too. Because things boil over you get kind of preoccupied in the business of trying to get the meal ready. That’s when you want to be careful. And of course, have the proper types of extinguishment nearby in case something would happen. Because you never throw water on grease, of course. And have a lid ready to throw on it. Of course if you have a fire… a grease fire… remember water and oil don’t mix. Just be precautionary. Have the right type of extinguishment  materials handy, even a fire extinguisher wouldn’t be a bad thing to have.”

The NFPA says people should stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop so they can keep an eye on the food, and stay in the home when cooking the turkey and check on it frequently.

Specific fire safety tips for Thanksgiving and a video demonstration of why turkey fryers can be so dangerous can be found here: